Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The House of Representatives yesterday charged President Muhammadu Buhari to rescind the Executive Order on the revocation of firearms certificates and licenses throughout the country in the interest of the citizens.
The House noted that rather than revoke the licenses for legally acquired firearms, Buhari should sign into law the bill on the establishment of a National Commission Against the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons to curb the influx of illegal weapons into the country.
This followed the adoption of a motion sponsored at yesterday’s plenary by Hon. Nnenna Elendu Ukeje. In her motion, she argued that the Executive Order is targeted at legal gun owners in the country, while there is no plan or policy by the government to mop up small arms and light weapons used for violent crimes across the country.
The lawmaker expressed dismay that the security challenge in the country, which was hitherto restricted to the North East and North Central, has spread to the North West and other parts of the country, leading to increased number of deaths arising from terrorism, kidnapping, banditry and other violent crimes.
She noted that there is no doubt that the high number of illegal firearms in the country is, amongst other factors, responsible for the increase in violent crimes.
Lawmakers, who contributed to the debate, called on the President to rescind the Executive Order, noting that planned revocation of firearms licenses will make communities and individuals across the country, vulnerable to attacks by criminals.
According to the lawmakers, owing to the spate of insecurity in the country, various communities have set up vigilance groups to provide security for their communities. They argued that revoking licenses for legally acquired firearms would not be in the interest of law-abiding citizens.
They stated that instead of withdrawing legally acquired firearms, the government should take drastic steps to mop illegal weapons in circulation in the country.
In his contribution, the chairman, House Committee on Rules and Business, Hon Edward Pwajok, stated that 99.9% of legal owners of guns do not use it for killings or kidnapping.
Pwajok added that “this issue was reported wildly about the intervention, but there has not been comment from the government. With that it is safe to assume that the Executive Order was signed by the president. We should err on the side of caution. My problem is that this policy is over intelligence. Are there researches that the killings are done by those licensed to hold guns?
“Those who kill are the ones with illegal weapons. Someone with legal weapon will not kill; 99.9% of people with legal weapon will not kill. Why would the president ban the ownership of weapons? Mr. President and security agencies should go after unlicensed guns. A criminal will not apply for license. This order does not have any purpose, it further incentivize criminals to have a field day.”