To help stem the tide of insecurity and the proliferation of arms and ammunition in Nigeria, erecting the Berlin kind of wall between Nigeria and her neighbours is urgently required, the Nigerian Navy has said.
The Navy represented by Commodore Jemila Ababkar Sadiq stated this on Monday, while participating in a public hearing on four security related bills organised by the House of Representatives Committee on National Security and Intelligence in Abuja.
Commodore Sadiq said most of Nigeria’s neighbours lack basic armouries to store and keep proper record of the arms donated to them by foreign governments or regional bodies to fight insurgency.
She added that soldiers of countries such as Chad sleep with unregistered weapons under their beds and sell same to make ends meet whenever the need arises.
“I was in charge as member of fight against Boko Haram and I can tell you categorically, and I stand to be corrected that some of the countries that have borders with us have no armoury. They do not have armories so most of their arms that are being donated by the developed countries in the name of assisting us to fight our problems are compounding our problems in Nigeria because you find out that each average Chadian soldier has 20 to 30 arm sunder neath his bed. When he is broke he brings it out and sells it for $30, $20. I am here, I am standing here and I am saying it.
“Since we are going to collaborate with ECOWAS and other countries that are donating such arms to these countries, I think we should insist that they should either enact laws to govern the handling of these arms and ammunition or build armouries for these countries or else we would not see peace.
“The CCTV we are advocating in my opinion even though they say the Berlin wall has been knocked down, I think we should build walls between us and these neighbouring countries, or we should have a serious surveillance or else we would not see peace in this country, I am telling you this. I have been in that area for years, so I know what is happening,” she said.
￼The Navy also canvassed for the removal of the Foreign Affairs Ministry from the board of the proposed National Commission for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons, and replace it with the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
We are contributing on small arms. The Ministry of Internal Affairs instead of Foreign Affairs should handle this same transaction. Internal affairs again should chair this commission.
“In addition to the listed agencies, we are suggesting that the armed forces be included and the immigration be included also,” she said.
Also speaking at the hearing, the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) expressed the need to regulate the activities of local blacksmiths who it said have become sophisticated in the art of fabricating firearms.
Represented by Air Commodore F. G. Okoyi, the DIA commended the proposed establishment of the commission, saying that it “would go a long way to ensure the coordination of concrete measures for effective control of small arms and light weapons in the country.”
While suggesting the appropriate supervising ministry for the commission, the Air Force officer stressed the need to regulate and integrate black smiths for effective control of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria.
“The Ministry of Defense should oversee the affairs of the commission. The cautionary attachment to blacksmith skills as well as the traditional weapons manufactured for hunting, ceremonial and ornamental purposes have remained the symbol of power and prestige in some traditional communities in Nigeria.
“However, in recent times, blacksmiths have advanced their skills and now possess the capability to manufacture assorted and sophisticated rifles such as AK-47, revolvers, pistols, improvised explosive devices, among others. This development has created the need to identify, monitor and regulate their activities. Thus, the need to scout for blacksmiths that could be integrated into the Defense Industrial Cooperation (DICON) to enable all defense industry complex exploit their talents,” he said.