The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha has said Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) are slowly becoming instruments of mass destruction as their accumulation has caused tremendous harm to communities and individuals, especially women and children.
Mustapha revealed this in Abuja on Thursday at a two-day multilateral meeting with stakeholders of the Lake Chad Basin region.
The meeting, with the theme ‘Cubing Proliferation of SALW in the Lake Chad Basin Region’, was organised by National Centre for the Control of SALW, Office of the National Security Adviser. Representatives of the three other countries of Lake Chad Basin Region including Cameroon, Niger and Chad attended the meeting.
He said: “The proliferation of small arms in the lake Chad Basin is a major security concern that has far-reaching consequences for the region.
“It has contributed to the escalation of conflict and violence and has impeded the economic and social development of the countries in the region.
“It is, therefore, imperative that we work together to curb the proliferation of small arms in the Lake Chad Basin region,” he said.
According to him, countries in Lake Chad Basin region should establish an enduring network and synergy to stem proliferation of SALW in the region.
“If we must put an end to the senseless and mindless violence of Boko Haram and other violence mongers that are widespread in the region,” he said.
Mustapha furthered on the need to work together to implement the existing international and regional agreements, on small arms control and to promote the development and implementation of new ones.
“We also need to engage in dialogue and cooperation to increase public awareness and to mobilise resources for small arms control initiatives,” he said.
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In the same vein, National Security Adviser, Babagana Mongonu, expressed concern on the devastating effects of the illicit circulation of SALW.
He said the profiferation of these weapons fuels conflicts, exacerbates violence and undermines peace and security in the Lake Chad region.
“We must take decisive action to address this menace and protect the lives and livelihoods of our citizens.
“This meeting provides us with opportunity to collaborate and share experiences and strategize towards curbing the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.”
Mongonu said Nigeria had taken steps to enhance its national firearms control regime, including the establishment of a National Centre for the Control of SALW, and the signing of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Convention on SALW.
“However, we recognise that this is not a problem that any one country can solve alone.
“We must work together as a region to address the root causes of this problem including poverty, underdevelopment and poor governance.
“We must also strengthen our border control measures to prevent the illicit flow of small arms and light weapons across our borders.
“Let us use this opportunity to build strong partnerships and develop practical solutions that will make a real difference in the lives of our citizens,” he said.