The Federal Government, as part of its broader strategy to stop the illicit flow of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) into the country has moved to strengthen the firearms laws in the country through the proposed amendment of the 1959 Nigerian Firearm Act and the Firearms Act CAP F28 LFN 2004.
This was the focus of the 2-day experts’roundtable on “The Repeal of the Nigerian “Firearms Act”, organized by the Presidential Committee on SALW (PRESCOM) to examine administrative mechanisms and laws controlling the proliferation of SALW in Nigeria.
Speaking at the opening of the event in Abuja, the Chairman, PRESCOM, Amb. Emmanuel Imohe, said that the roundtable would also examine the adequacy of the firearms Act, the enforcement mechanisms established therein for the control of the flow of SALW, and to make recommendations for the harmonisation of the Act with the new convention.
According to Imohe, the 1959 Act is both obsolete and does not reflect the realities and challenges associated with SALW proliferation, which has been feeding the dastardly acts of terrorist and insurgent groups like Boko Haram.
The former Director-General of Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA), however lamented that the “law is not strong enough to constitute a deterrent on the nefarious activities of such criminals” and the “existing Act lacks the bite to hand over commensurate sanctions to culprits or breaches of the Act.
Meanwhile, he said, the proposed amendment was carried out by PRESCOM, in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Justice, and technical and expert inputs the security agencies, Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF), ECOWAS Commission, ICRC and UNREC amongst others.
The current firearms laws are contained in the exclusive Legislative list provided in the schedule to the 1999 Constitution, meaning that only the federal government can make laws regulating SAWL.