The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission and the United Nations are partnering the federal government in a new Weapon Collection Programme for the northern part of the country, with a view to stemming the proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW), which has been blamed as the root cause of state of insecurity engineered by Boko Haram sect.
The Commissioner, Political Affairs, Peace and Security of ECOWAS Commission, Mrs. Salamatu Hussaini-Suleiman, disclosed this yesterday when the Presidential Committee on SALW led by Ambassdor Emmanuel Imohe, paid her a courtesy to seek ways of collaboration towards the full domestication of the ECOWAS convention.
Hussaini-Suleiman said the project was some of the initiatives that ECOWAS came up with to help member states, which have certain challenges that require strategic, technical and dedicated attention.
According to her, all member states are entitled to and supported by the commission in whatever way that help is required to solve some of their domestic needs, especially on issues of insecurity.
She said: “Looking at the incessant insecurity issues in the northern part of Nigeria, the Arms for Development Initiative of the ECOWAS Commission has discussed with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), for Arms Collection Project to be dedicated and executed for that section of Nigeria. We hope that very soon, there will be exchanges between UNDP and your Committee.
“So we support national initiatives such as this by working with international organisations and partners to see the problems existing in member countries and how we can resolve them.
“These are the kind of initiatives that the commission is putting in place to support Nigeria and it must be done in active collaboration with the presidential committee and the Nigeria government. It is currently being worked out and we want to start as soon as possible,” she added.
The commissioner commended the federal government for setting up what she described as a high-powered committee made up of eminent Nigerians to tackle the menacing challenge of weapons proliferation in the country.
She said the mandate of the committee was a strong signal to both local stakeholders and international community that the country is serious about fighting insecurity in the country.
Also speaking, Imohe confirmed that the Arms Collection Project was already in the pipeline with ECOWAS Commission providing the framework through which the committee would work with the support of the UNDP.
He however clarified that the initiative emanated from his committee but under the template being provided by the ECOWAS Commission.
“ECOWAS will be providing the framework that we are going to be working with but the initiative is from the national committee, the presidential committee, which will be working along the lines of the rubrics provided by ECOWAS,” he explained.
Speaking further, the Chairman of the presidential committee pointed out that Nigeria’s firearm law is no longer relevant to the emerging security challenges in the country.
According to him, “the issue of firearm in Nigeria dates back to 1959 and therefore obsolete.
“It is no longer in tune with the current day realities, especially the issues of SALW. It needs to be either repealed, and new one created or updated and we are working on it.”