The United Nations has expressed concern over the 350 million illicit weapons which, it said, are in wrong hands in Nigeria.
The global body disclosed that this figure accounts for 70 per cent of the estimated 500 million small arms and light weapons (SALW) in Africa.
Speaking at a national security consultation on physical security and stockpile management in Abuja yesterday, the director, UN Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC), Olatokunbo Ige, lamented that Nigeria was awash with illicit weapons.
She said: “The illicit proliferation of SALW has had a dramatic impact on peace and security in Africa, threatening not only the existence of the state, but also the livelihoods of millions of people across the continent.
“Nigerian is one of the countries that are experiencing some of the most devastating effects of the proliferation of SALW as a result of spill-over effect of the recent crises in Libya and Mali as well as unresolved internal conflicts in different parts of the country especially in the North East, Niger Delta and Southern regions.
“While reliable data on the numbers of these weapons circulating freely in the country is unavailable, analysts have in recent times estimated that, of the about 500 million weapons that may be circulating in West Africa in 2010, some 70 per cent of these could be found in Nigeria.”
She further noted that if left unchecked, this scourge will not only jeopardise the developmental gains achieved over the last 50 years, but will also impede the nation’s capacity to achieve its developmental targets and, therefore, negatively impact on the future generations.
Ige attributed the illicit proliferation of arms mainly to the ineffective stockpile management, among other factors.
For his part, the chairman, PRESCOM, Emmanuel Imohe, noted that the country’s firearms law was obsolete and ineffective.