The Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) has said that Nigeria remains its only member state without a functional National Commission on Small Arms.
ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Mrs. Halima Ahmed, who made this revelation in Abuja at the Experts’ meeting on Improving Cross-Border Sub-Regional Cooperation in Small Arms and Light Weapons Control urged the Nigerian government to put in place a National Commission on Small Arms.
“We in the ECOWAS region have advanced in the establishment and strengthening of National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) based on the provision of Article 24 of the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, their ammunition and other related materials. Except for Nigeria, all the member states have functional Commissions on Small Arms…we encourage Nigeria to do same, “she said.
She said that the cross-border and the inter-regional nature of the insurgency and other security challenges like piracy and arms trade informed the ECOWAS current partnership with the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) to work on their interregional coordination on maritime and other security issues.
Speaking at the meeting, Director United Nations Regional Center for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC), Ms. Olatokunbo Ige, also revealed that Nigeria witnessed the largest increase in terror related deaths ever recorded by in any country, increasing over 300 percent in 2014 to 7,512 fatalities.
While quoting the 2015 Global Terrorism Index issued by the Institute for Economics and Peace, Ms. Ige said the report stated that Boko Haram, which is increasingly operating beyond Nigerian borders, has become the deadliest terrorist group in the world.
She expressed concerns that the Sahel has continued to be confronted with the destabilizing effects of the widespread proliferation and availability of arms and ammunition from within the region and beyond.
“Thus negative phenomenon weighs heavily on the security of populations in the region. The issues of the diversion and illicit transfer of weapons to non-state actors, including armed groups, terrorists and networks of criminals, remains a major challenge in the fight against their illegal and abuse use” she said.