Senator Gbolahan Dada from Ogun West in seeking for the amendment of the firearms Act, Cap F28, laws of the Federation to prohibit the illegal importation of firearms and increase fines charged persons who possess firearms without obtaining valid license has scaled through second reading.
The amendment bill scaled second reading for increase of fine for illegal possession of firearms. The bill tends to put in place stipulations for the destruction of firearms illegally imported into the country or arms in the possession of individuals without valid license.
Senator Dada in his lead debate on the floor of the senate stressed that the major objectives behind the proposed amendment is amongst other things to:
To increase the fine imposed for offences committed under the act from One Thousand Naira to One Hundred Thousand. He noted that the cost of one firearms is above Five Hundred Thousand Naira, therefore the penalty for the offense of illegal possession of arms is supposed to be above the One thousand Naira that has been the fine.
According to the Senator Dada, the bill seeks to build public confidence in overall efforts to eradicate illegal firearms and prevent illegal firearms from finding their way back into the society.
He said the bill if passed into law would generate revenue for the Federal Government which would come from recycling and reusing waste materials such as metal, wood and plastic derived from destroyed arms.
To buttress his point, Senator Dada refered his colleagues to the newspaper publication on the 31st of January, 2017, the Daily Trust newspaper with the headlines “Nigeria Customs Service has seized 661 pump action rifles imported into the country from China illegally”.
“They were packed in 49 boxes and concealed with steel doors and other goods in a 40ft container.
The question is, “Where are the rifles, Who is keeping the rifles, Your guess is as good as mine”.
The Ogun State born Lawmaker in his lead presentation also stated that the worrisome development is that the seizure of illegal firearms is not limited to the NIS alone, as reports have confirmed that other Security agencies like the Nigerian Army, Police, NSCDC have also been involved in the seizure of illegal firearms.
He lamented a recent United Nations alarm over the existence of over 500 million illegal firearms circulating in the West African sub region alone and over 350 million of these representing 70% is said to be domiciled in Nigeria.
The Senator feared that the rate of gun inflow is a security threats to the Nation. He urged the Nigeria government to urgently find the right solution to that menace.