…350 Million Illegal Arms Are in the Hands of Thugs, Terrorist Groups …Women, Children Constitute 80 Per Cent of Casualties from Illegal Arms For the sixth consecutive year, Nigeria has retained its position as the third country most ravaged by insurgency in the world. An international security think-tank, Global Terrorism Index (GTI), which revealed
…350 Million Illegal Arms Are in the Hands of Thugs, Terrorist Groups
…Women, Children Constitute 80 Per Cent of Casualties from Illegal Arms
For the sixth consecutive year, Nigeria has retained its position as the third country most ravaged by insurgency in the world. An international security think-tank, Global Terrorism Index (GTI), which revealed this in a report on Thursday, said that the number of deaths attributed to Boko Haram in Nigeria increased by 25 percent from 2018 to 2019.
This is coming on the heels of frightening claims by the Senate that the country is awash with small arms, with 70 per cent of the 500 million illegal arms in West Africa said to be located on Nigerian territory.
The recent report said despite the rise in the number of casualties from Boko Haram attacks in the North-East, Nigeria is the second to record a fall in violent deaths after Afghanistan in 2019.
GTI said 2,043 people died from “terrorism-related acts” in Nigeria in 2018 but only 1,245 deaths were recorded in 2019. In the overall, deaths from terrorism globally fell by 15.5 percent from 2018 to 2019.
“Nigeria had the second largest fall in total deaths, owing largely to a 72 percent reduction in fatalities attributed to Fulani extremists,” it said.
“Despite this decrease, the number of deaths attributed to Boko Haram increased by 25 percent from 2018 to 2019.
“Renewed activity by Boko Haram in Nigeria and neighbouring countries, including Cameroon, Chad and Niger, remains a substantial threat to the region.”
The report also said Boko Haram carried out 11 suicide bombings killing 68 people.
“In 2019, Boko Haram carried out 11 suicide bombings causing 68 fatalities. Suicide bombings accounted for 6% of all terror-related incidents by Boko Haram in 2019, marking an 89% decline from their peak in 2017,” it said.
“Boko Haram was responsible for Nigeria’s deadliest terrorist attack in 2019 when assailants attacked a funeral in Badu, Borno State.
“At least 70 people were killed and 10 others were wounded in the attack and ensuing clash. The two main factions of Boko Haram, the Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) and the followers of Abubakar Shekau, are both engaged in an insurgency campaign against the Nigerian government.
“Violence by the two main factions of Boko Haram have taken a large toll on the civilian population, particularly in the North East Nigeria, where continued attacks have internally displaced more than two million people and caused a further 240,000 Nigerian refugees to flee to neighbouring countries,” the report added.
What’s perhaps further chilling is the claim by the Senate Leader, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi (APC-Kebbi North), that 350 million (or 70%) of the 500 million illegal arms in West Africa were in Nigeria.
Senator Abdullahi said this while recalling the report of the National Consultation on Physical Security and Stockpile Management (PSSM) organised in 2019 in Abuja by the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC) and the Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons (PRESCOM).
This is just as the Senate blamed the high level of violence, insecurity with consistent cases of armed banditry and kidnapping across the country, on the proliferation of weapons.
According to the Senate, small arms and light weapons are readily available and quite easy to use, just as it said that against this backdrop they had become the primary or sole tool of violence in almost all conflicts in every part of our society.
The Senate said that these weapons were in the hands of irregular troops operating with lack of respect for international and humanitarian law, and they have taken a heavy toll on human lives, with women and children accounting for nearly 80 percent of the casualties.
It’s against this background that the Upper Chamber has considered a critical bill seeking to tackle the illicit importation and trade of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria, even as the Nigerian National Commission Against the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons Bill, on Wednesday, scaled second reading in the Senate.
The bill was sponsored by Senator Abdullahi. The bill, after consideration, was referred by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, to the Senate Committee on Defence for further legislative work.
In his lead debate, the Senate leader said that the piece of legislation, among other things, seeks to: identify sources and main routes of small arms, ammunition and light weapons; establish links of liaising with relevant authorities, agencies and organisations with the aim of tackling the menace; and train and build the capacity of the corps towards and enforcement of this mandate.
According to him, when passed into law, the bill would put in place machineries such as the Nigerian National Commission Against the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons to combat illegal importation of arms; and enhance harmonization of intelligence and information collection, analysis and dissemination among the intelligence organs and law enforcement agencies.
Senator Abdullahi said: “Small Arms and Light Weapons are readily available, easy to use and have been the primary or sole tool of violence in almost all conflicts in every part of our society.
“These weapons of terror are in the hands of irregular troops operating with scant respect for international and humanitarian law. They have taken a heavy toll on human lives, with women and children accounting for nearly 80 percent of the casualties.
“In Nigeria, this has become a serious security challenge. There is general insecurity as most parts of the country experience high-level crimes perpetrated using illicit arms.
“The UN estimated that of the most substantial percentage of illegal arms that is in circulation in West Africa are in Nigeria.
“This has fuelled violent conflicts as witnessed in the Niger Delta, kidnapping in the South-East, armed robbery pandemic in the South-West, ethnic-religious violence on the Plateau, and the Boko Haram terrorist operations in the North-East, a situation which has plunged the nation into a serious state of insecurity.”