The Senate on Tuesday resolved to invite all service chiefs, heads of other security and paramilitary agencies to appear before it to explain the measures they had taken to contain the rise in the proliferation of firearms and spate of killings in the country.
The Senate also mandated its Committee on Intelligence and National Security to conduct a thorough investigation to determine the remote and immediate causes of the proliferation of firearms in the country, as well as proffer a lasting solution to the problem.
It also called on the executive arm to organise a special security summit to discuss approaches to the handling of arms proliferation and other security issues.
This followed the adoption of a motion sponsored by Sulaiman Hunkuyi (APC, Kaduna North) wherein he called attention to the proliferation of dangerous firearms in Nigeria. Another Kaduna senator, Shehu Sani, argued that Nigeria’s political orientation and culture encouraged violence in the acquisition of power.
Hunkuyi had noted – with grave concern – that tribal, communal, religious, and other sectarian revolts, including the farmers/herdsmen crisis, were now more devastating due to the wrongful and easy acquisition of firearms in violation of due process as laid down by the enabling laws and regulations.
“This ugly 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 within the country, as well as negligence from the departments of government entrusted with the responsibility to control how individuals and corporate entities can acquire and maintain firearms in Nigeria, but particularly the free access by hoodlums to acquire firearms easily,” Hunkuyi said.
In an explosive contribution to the debate, Shehu Sani, also from Kaduna, said: “The level of arms and ammunition that are in the hands of unauthorised people in Nigeria has the capacity to bring an end to this nation as an entity”. He said the personality and political disposition of many Nigerians predispose them to violence as a means of expressing grievances in the face of perceived injustice, particularly when those in positions of authority openly promote violence.
He added: “There’s so much the police and other security agencies can do in a situation where you have even people in positions of power and authority openly canvassing for violence. “Our political orientation and culture is one that promotes violence. Our political parties are not found on any sound ideological principles but simply on the basis of survival of the fittest.
“When people sit up there in the position of authority and all they can think of is to use that position to visit evil and oppression on others, it is an indication of a system that has impoverished everybody, and oppressed everybody, making them see violence as the only means of survival.
“Here we are asking the police IG to come, what would he come to do when those who should ordinarily demand effective service delivery from the security agencies also have their hands deep in institutionalised violence.”
Leader of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said: “The country is bedevilled by so much insecurity.”
He said the proliferation of illegal firearms was the major reason there were many killings in the country and called on the service chiefs to find lasting solutions to the issue.
In his remarks, Senate President Bukola Saraki said the issue of security in the country was the number one concern of all Nigerians. He decried the rate of killings and the inadequate and poor response by security agencies to address the menace.
He called for a concerted effort to check the trend. “People are now going about with weapons as if they are accessories,” Saraki said.
Police Arrest Gun Suppliers To Killers In Benue, Taraba
Meanwhile, the police on Tuesday paraded persons accused of supplying arms to bandits who have been attacking communities in Benue and Taraba states.
Scores of people have been killed in both states since the start of the year.
In a statement on Tuesday evening, Jimoh Moshood, police spokesperson, listed the names of the suspects and arms recovered from them.
According to Moshood, the renewed strategies adopted by the police to stop the incessant killings and curtail the proliferation of firearms across the country, especially in the North Central states, led to the arrests.
“The IGP’s Intelligence Response Team and the Police Special Forces mandated by the IGP to work with Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba state commands, in the last two weeks arrested the 11 suspects within Benue and Taraba states and recovered from them 10 AK47 rifles and other assorted firearms and ammunition,” he said.
In the first two cases, we gathered that the suspects confessed to have been responsible for the supply of AK47 rifles and other firearms and ammunition to bandits, militias and criminal herdsmen in Benue and Taraba states.
The first suspect, Morris Ashwe, 36, from Benue reportedly admitted to supplying firearms and ammunition to Terwase Akwaza aka Ghana, the notorious leader of militia, murderers and kidnappers who was declared wanted by the police for the merciless killing of several innocent persons and wanton destruction of properties worth millions of naira at Zaki Biam in Benue State on March 20, 2017, and for other violent crimes such as culpable homicide, mischief by fire and criminal conspiracy and the killing of one Deneen Igbana, the Special Adviser on Security to the Governor of Benue State.
In the second case, the police said all the three suspects namely Kabiru Idris, Miracle Emmanuel and Husseini Safiyanu were arrested in Taraba with five AK47 rifles, 13 AK47 magazines, 83 rounds of AK47 ammunition.
They confessed to arming militia groups, bandits and other criminals in Taraba and Benue.