In recent years, the increasing availability and use of lethal weapons have become a growing concern for many Nigerians, raising fears about the country’s peace and security. This issue has prompted questions about how these weapons found their way into the nation, who is behind their distribution, and why they are freely wielded by individuals of all ages, often disregarding the rule of law.
The prevailing peace that Nigerians aspire to has, in many instances, become a rare and costly commodity, with law enforcement agencies struggling to guarantee it. Lethal weapons are now in the hands of armed robbers, kidnappers, vandals, land grabbers, cultists, and other criminal elements across the nation. Unlike in the past when criminals would flee at the sight of uniformed officers, recent findings indicate that they are more likely to confront or attack law enforcement personnel and seek escape routes as a last resort.
The consequences of this concerning trend were tragically demonstrated last week in Sagamu, Ogun State, where a clash between rival suspected cult groups left several individuals dead, including a man in his 60s who encountered the violence while returning from his farm. Just days ago, in the Eastern part of the country, a group of security operatives comprising soldiers, policemen, and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) were horrifically burned alive by unidentified gunmen.
In response to this menacing situation, the National Association of Online Security News Publishers (NAOSNP) organized the 2023 National Security Conference/Awards, focused on addressing the various security challenges facing the country. The conference, held on Thursday, September 21st, 2023, at the Civic Centre in Victoria Island, Lagos, featured notable speakers, including IGP Solomon Ehigiator Arase (rtd), the Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC), and Dr. Abubakar Ahmed Audi, fdc, the Commandant-General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
During his keynote address, Arase highlighted the grave threat posed by the proliferation of small arms and light weapons to national security. He emphasized the need for collaborative efforts between the government and various stakeholders to address this pressing issue. Arase commended President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for his commitment to equipping the Nigeria Police Force with modern tools and resources to counter emerging security challenges.
Arase also mentioned the active engagement of the Nigeria Police Force with the National Commission for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (NCCSALW) in curbing the illicit trade and circulation of these weapons. This partnership has proven instrumental in the effort to reduce the spread of lethal arms.
In his remarks, Dr. Abubakar Ahmed Audi discussed the ongoing efforts to combat pipeline vandalism in Lagos State. He noted that around 40 suspects had been arrested in connection with pipeline vandalism in 2023 and that significant exhibits had been recovered. Audi stressed the importance of collective action by all Nigerians and security agencies in addressing this issue and protecting the environment.
The conference shed light on the urgent need to address the proliferation of lethal weapons in Nigeria and emphasized the importance of cooperation among government agencies, security forces, and the public to ensure a safer and more secure nation.