The Head of the European Union Delegation to ECOWAS, Enobong Moma, said, on Thursday, that her organisation had budgeted a total of €24.4m to fight against the proliferation and illicit circulation of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria and other West African countries.
She noted that reducing the availability of small arms and light weapons would help curb organised crime in the region.
This was as the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu, said the proliferation of small arms and light weapons was undermining Nigeria’s security, calling for collaboration to end the scourge.
They spoke at a roundtable meeting on the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons in Nigeria held in Abuja.
In his remarks, the head of EU delegation to ECOWAS, Moma said, “You may well know, illicit weapons, which are now, even more readily available – threaten electoral processes, weaken police authority, promote sexual violence and undermine security efforts to maintain peace. This is particularly worrisome in the face of the rise of criminal activity and violent extremism within the country and beyond its borders.
“It is in response to this threat, that the European Union has taken the initiative to support ECOWAS and by extension, its member states including Nigeria, in implementing the provisions of its Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons and its vision of promoting peace, security, and stability within its Member States.
“With a total budget of €24.4m, this project is part of the regional effort to combat organised crime and trafficking in persons in West Africa by reducing the availability and illicit trafficking of SALW at the border community level and strengthening cross-border cooperation as well as the capacity of national actors on SALW control.”
On his part, Ribadu, who was represented by his Special Adviser on Special Duties, Mohammed Ahmed, said, “The National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons stands at a critical juncture, where the support and collaboration of all stakeholders are not just beneficial but essential.
“The proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons is a scourge that undermines our security, hampers our progress, and erodes the very foundation of our society. It is a challenge that no single entity can combat alone, hence, this roundtable.
“Let us be guided by the urgency of our mission and the knowledge that the success of the National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons is intrinsically linked to the security and prosperity of our society as a whole.”
The National Coordinator for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons Major General Abba Dikko (retd.), appealed to President Bola Tinubu to assent to the Centre’s Bill to provide legal backing for operational efficiency.
He also disclosed that the centre was working towards an ICT setup for a national database of small arms and light weapons to unify and streamline inventory management.
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