Influx of firearms: Experts advise FG to monitor regional politics
As concerns grow over the security implications of rising inflow of smuggled arms and ammunition into Nigeria, security experts say the Federal Government must begin to take a keener interest in international politics and sub-regional conflicts, which according to them, is the source of the illicit arms.
The experts who spoke on condition of anonymity, further link the inflow of illicit arms to the nation’s weak borders, which they say are among the most porous in the world, on account of poor motivation of personnel, corruption in the rank of border guards, as well as poor or zero deployments of efficient and affordable technologies.
The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) has severally intercepted caches of firearms at the Lagos seaports and land borders but without successful prosecution of the culprits. This has continued to raise concerns, leaving many in a state of fear, in the face of growing discontent and agitations across ethnic divide, especially as the 2019 elections approach.
The security experts, who spoke to BusinessDay said that the importation of firearms into the country is a cause for grave concern.
“It is in our interest as a nation, to track global trends and the movement of arms across borders. The world has become much smaller in terms of politics and conflicts. This requires that each country take more than a passing interest in what is happening in other neighboring countries”.
Our sources linked the arming of the Boko Haram insurgents in North-East Nigeria to the ‘Arab Spring’, (the series of protests and demonstrations across the Middle East and North Africa that commenced in 2010) adding the arms from Libya filtered into Chad and subsequently into Nigeria, noting that there may be a connection between this and the arms influx leading to the rising agitations in different regions of the country.
Our sources said the country’s security challenges are worsened by a poor record of arms in circulation within Nigeria and a shortage in number and quality of forensic laboratories.
They added that the flow of illicit arms was fuelling the spate of armed robbery, kidnapping, murder, thuggery, and militancy because greater supply means cheaper prices of arms.
“Illegal arms contribute to internal insecurity and makes criminals more formidable. We are gradually approaching 2019 and the general elections. The arms in circulation can be used and anybody can become a victim. Unfortunately, it is difficult to solve the problem of the use of illegal arms without forensics.”
Chika Onuegbu, a former national industrial relations officer of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) also decried the frequent importation of firearms into the country, saying it is suggestive that Nigeria is in trouble.
Onuegbu, however, questioned the failure of the government to successfully prosecute persons involved in the illegal deals.
“What efforts have the government made to stop this. We have heard about the interception of caches of arms at the ports several times, but how many of the persons involved in this illegal deals have been tracked and successfully prosecuted to serve as a deterrent? For me, it is an indication that all is not well in Nigeria,” said Onuegbu.
Oyesoji Aremu, a professor of counseling and criminal justice studies, University of Ibadan, linked the development to increasing criminality like kidnapping, with families of victims made to pay ransom in order to free their loved ones. He said the development has left many heartbroken.
Aremu likewise lamented the lack of properly coordinated criminal databases co-shared by the various security agencies and the public, for easy tracking of criminals.
Other experts further spoke of government’s failure to sufficiently deploy close circuit television (CCTV) sets, which they said had been deployed with great success in Europe and the US.
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