The Senate has summoned all service chiefs; the Director General of the State Security Service, Lawan Daura; the Comptroller General of Customs, Hameed Ali; and the National security adviser, Babagana Monguno over the illegal possession of firearms by non-authorised Nigerians.
The invitation was sequel to deliberations on a motion titled “proliferation of dangerous firearms in Nigeria” sponsored by Suleiman Hunkuyi (APC, Kaduna North).
The senator had called for the invitation while lamenting the incessant killings in several parts of the country with reference to the most recent killings in Kaduna State on Saturday.
The Saturday attack by bandits in Gwaska village of Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna left at least 58 people dead.
Among the victims was the Sarkin Fawa (head of local vigilante) who was on his way back to the village.
Several houses in the village of about 3,000 inhabitants were also set ablaze.
The attack came barely 48 hours after the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, and Mohammed, General Officer Commanding, 1 Division, Nigerian Army, Kaduna, visited Birnin Gwari.
Mr Idris shunned a Senate invitation to visit Birnin Gwari, but has been summoned, for the third time, to appear on Wednesday before the lawmakers.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday condemned the Gwaska attack and rolled out measures his government was putting in place to prevent a reoccurrence. One of such measures is the deployment of a permanent army battalion to Birnin Gwari which has suffered similar attacks in the past year.
In his motion, Mr Hunkuyi stressed that tribal, communal, religious, and other sectarian clashes, including the farmers/herders crises, are now more devastating due to wrongful and easy acquisition of firearms in violation of due process of such acquisition as laid down by the enabling laws and regulations.
He said the trend has contributed to the colossal loss of lives and wanton destruction of property of Nigerian citizens.
“This is attributable to the inability to control the proliferation of firearms into this country; as well as negligence from the departments of government entrusted with the responsibility to control how individuals, corporate entities can acquire and maintain firearms in Nigeria, but particularly the free access by hoodlums to acquire firearms easily,” he said.
He expressed worry that despite the killings in Benue, Kaduna, Kogi, Zamfara and other parts of Nigeria, since the start of the year, meaningful efforts are not being embarked upon to curtail the proliferation of firearms in Nigeria.
“The situation has worsened to the extent that some opinion leaders are calling on Nigerians to stand up and protect themselves. These prodding at self-defence, if not checked through action by the government, would certainly get to the extent that firearm would be secured by every household either in the name of protection or for some other purposes. From the observation of the United States experience, such a scenario will not augur well for this country,” he added.
The lawmaker warned that if the situation is allowed to further deteriorate, unprecedented famine and diminishing economic output, as seen in nations plagued by war and crises will pervade Nigeria.
“As the most populous country on the African continent, the nation’s GDP would certainly be affected adversely,” he said.
He also expressed disappointment at the fact that the various departments of government entrusted with the responsibility of checking and regulating the influx of firearms in Nigeria “have failed woefully in the discharge of this all important duty.”
Contributing to the motion, James Manager (PDP, Delta) described the proliferation of firearms as one that should not be ignored. He said it puts the lives of everyone (especially the unarmed) in danger.
He expressed worry that worse could happen with the election year approaching and no one “can tell what will happen.”
The Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan (APC, Yobe North) said the motion gives the Senate “an opportunity to look at one of the reasons why we are suffering today.”
“The issue of proliferation of firearms is definitely a major reason why we have the killings going on.
“Our security officers are not even properly armed. The armed forces lose their firearms to these culprits and it has been established that most of the firearms in the hands of the criminals are from our armed forces and security agencies,” he said.
The Senate, thereafter, resolved to invite the security chiefs to discuss ways to put an end to “this unfortunate situation.”
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