The Nigerian Senate has on Wednesday unanimously passed the Firearms Act Cap F28 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 (Amendment) Bill, 2021(SB.549) sponsored by Senator Uba Sani of Kaduna Central.
Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, according to the lawmaker, was “effusive in his praise of my intervention, stating that this is one worthy bill that deserves presidential assent”.
The bill, which now has very stringent punishment for offenders, came on the heels of worrisome insecurity worsened by activities of the nation’s non-state actors in recent years.
The lawmaker, who is also the Chairman Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions revealed that the frightening statistics on the proliferation of illegal and illicit arms in West Africa, especially in Nigeria, informed his decision to sponsor the bill.
“From available statistics provided by the United Nations Regional Center for Peace and Disarmament and Stockpile Management in Abuja, it was reported that the proliferation of illicit and small arms and light weapons in Nigeria has reached an alarming proportion.” Uba Sani declared.
“And over 500 million of such weapons are circulating in the West Africa Sub-Region, with over 350 million, which represents 70% of such weapons, are domiciled in Nigeria. They maintained that this development is worrisome, hence the need to have this legislation in place in order to provide for stringent punishments, to serve as deterrence in the concerted efforts to curtail proliferation of illicit firearms and all associated crimes”, the lawmaker stressed.
He went on to recall that the bill went through “a well-attended and result-oriented Public Hearing” enjoying the unanimous support of all relevant stakeholders towards its passage along with the amendments, which he said were reflected in the draft Bill submitted to the upper Chambers for approval.
He noted that the Senate’s approval led to three major developments on the Bill, namely “the utilisation of confiscated and seized firearms that are of military serviceable grades by the military or paramilitary organisations, in line with best practices obtainable in some jurisdictions like the United States of America, India, Australia”.
” That the consequential amendment introduced by the Committee, which seeks to include other law enforcement agencies in section 38 of the Principal Act, is welcome development because it is not only officers of the Armed Forces of the Federation and the Nigeria Police Force that are authorised to carry firearms and ammunitions in the discharge of their statutory functions”, the upper Chamber reasoned.
Senator Uba Sani also expressed his appreciation over the role of relevant stakeholders in the passage of the bill, notably the Senate President the Committee on judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, and his colleagues in general for what he described as milestone.
” This is an important and strategic contribution to the efforts geared towards degrading criminal elements in Nigeria and restoring peace to our troubled communities”, the lawmaker pointed out.