By Lizzy Okoji
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has led moves to combating the proliferation and trafficking of small arms and light weapons in cross border communities across Nigeria.
Mr Fredrick Ampiah, UNDP’s Regional Coordinator for Small Arms and Light Weapons, made this known on Thursday in Abuja during a stakeholders’ inception meeting on UNDP’s proposed assistance in combating arms proliferation in Nigeria.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the stakeholders’ meeting was organised by the UNDP, in collaboration with the Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons (PRESCOM).
According to Ampiah, the meeting is focused on offering solutions and bringing up ideas on how to stop the proliferation of small and light weapons in Nigeria, and across the sub region.
He said that the stakeholders’ engagement was organised to have an in-depth discussion on the project the UNDP was planning in Nigeria to support the proliferation of small arms in targeted cross border communities.
He said the workshop also aimed at building capacities of security agencies and CSOs in cross border communities with a specific focus on women to foster cross border and security networks across the borders.
“We believe that addressing the proliferation of small arms requires a multi-dimensional approach that goes beyond every single country; and we know that we have a lot of borders that are porous.
“We have some borders that are manned as well, so the idea is to build the capacity and strengthen the operational abilities of the cross border institutions that man the borders.
“We will also do a sensitisation and awareness creation to build the trust and cohesion among cross border communities.
“What we intend to get out of this is to ensure well informed communities that live across the borders are able to help in the reduction of trafficking of small arms and light weapons.
“Strengthen institutional and operational capacity of our security agencies at the border communities and then ultimately, have a kind of a network or platform which you can exchange information and ideas.
“To feed into the whole government’s efforts at reducing insecurity which are mainly perpetuated with the proliferation of small arms,” Ampiah said.
The UNDP Representative said that with Nigeria having borders with several countries, there would be specific focus on the Nigeria-Cameroon, Nigeria –Benin, Nigeria-Chad and Nigeria –Niger borders.
Ampiah said there was need for legal and regulatory frameworks to be in place to effectively deal with small arms proliferation and trafficking.
He explained that without legal and regulatory frameworks in place to prosecute perpetuators, the whole policies would end up in a vicious circle without any effect.
Also speaking, Chairman of PRESCOM, Amb. Emmanuel Imohe, noted that one of the major challenges of security agencies was the ability to understand the dynamics of criminals who always tried to stay ahead of security operatives.
Imohe, who was represented by Dickson Orji, PRESCOM’s Programme Coordinator, said that the workshop would enable the UNDP, PRESCOM and other stakeholders to come up with suitable implementation policies.
He said that proliferation of small arms was not just a Nigerian problem but a big global issue because as the world sought to solve the problems, the more new dynamics were emerging.
“This workshop is for bringing together security agencies to find out the roots and causes of infiltration of small arms in Nigeria and how it can be combated.
“This workshop is basically looking at ways of training and increasing the capacity of the security agencies in combating these crimes of infiltration of small arms and other dangerous weapons.
“We are bothered because we know that the primary choice or weapons of those perpetuating this crime is small and light weapons.
“Without these weapons in their possession, you and I can tackle them when confronted on the road,” imohe said.
Imohe said that Since 2013, PRESCOM had trained more than 500 security personnel drawn from different agencies on maritime and border management both in and outside Nigeria.