Chairman Senate Committee on Business and Rules, Ita Ewang, has called for the withdrawal of arms purchased by the Governor of Zamafara state, Abdulaziz Yari, for vigilante groups in the state, adding that such arms should be considered as ‘illegal arms’ because there are rules guiding the possession of arms in the country.
The Senator suggested that rather than arm such vigilante groups to address the security challenge in the state, the necessary thing to do is to deploy armed forces to the state.
Mr Yari, is alleged to arm vigilante groups in the state with rifles to address insecurity in the state, a move the Senate condemned last week.
Speaking on Channels Television breakfast programme Sunrise Daily, Mr Ewang stated that to do otherwise than withdrawing the arms, means passing a resolution by the Senate against existing laws. He added that if that has to be done, the Fire Arms Act has to be amended relating to possession, application and use of arms without passing a resolution.
He noted that Nigeria is bedeviled with myriad of security challenges due to importation of illegal arms and that the provision of Nigerian law does not allow “just any person to import arms except there is clearance.”
The lawmaker further asked if the arms purchased by the Zamafara state governor is by legal acquisition or if governors are allowed to possess arms to use.
He advised that the importation of small arms should be curtailed.
When asked if the lawmakers will probe the unabated importation of arms into the country, the Senator relied that “it is will be inappropriate for the legislator to want to investigate an issue that the executive has already set up a committee to probe”, referring to committee set-up by President Goodluck Jonathan on the proliferation of arms in the country.
“The Committee on the Proliferation of Small Arms is a sleeping committee and it is not doing anything. That committee was already in existence and the President rejuvenated and activated it but I think that rejuvenation seem to have made the committee more sleepy because they are not doing anything.”
The President must take another look at that committee because what we are hearing are more attacks and more herdsmen being armed and invasion of more communities” he opined.
The Senator who gave the thumbs down for the presidential committee against the proliferation of small arms for performing below expectation, wondered why there are no convictions of people who possess arms illegally.