A recent report has shown that about 5 million arms are illegally in the hands of terrorists, militants and armed robbers in Nigeria.
According to Dr Abdul-Ganiyu Abdus-Salam, a lecturer at the University of Abuja (UNIABUJA), Nigeria is ranked third on the list of countries with highest gun deaths and injuries globally after the United States and South Africa.
Abdus-Salam, who teaches at the department of arts and social science education, stated this on Sunday, December 20, during his lecture at a Peace Conference organised by the United Nigerian Chaplaincy (UNC).
The conference was themed “Small arms and light weapons and the Nigerian youth: A cog in the wheel of our national development”.
There, Abdus-Salam said that private dealers deliberately violate arms sales laws and policies as against source, transit or recipient country for commercial gains.
He said: “It is flabbergasting to discover that youths consume unconventional substances like adhesive solutions, lizard excreta, sniffing pit latrines, abusing cough syrups, inhaling petrol from jerry cans, and drinking goskolo – mostly in Plateau state – which is said to be more dangerous than Ogogoro and Burukutu drinks.”
Abdus-Salam attributed these trends to growing poverty level among youths, unemployment, secularism and exclusion of religion and environmental degradation which triggers agitation among these youths as seen in the Niger Delta region.
“Youths should leave arms and substance abuse for jobs that will benefit them and Nigeria. And our political leaders should also evolve ideas that would bring jobs rather than arming these youths to win elections and later leave them idle,” he said.
“The government should invite youths who have these arms and buy them at an exorbitant price and destroy them, so that the youths will invest the money in other beneficial ventures. It is very difficult now to control arms proliferation.
“There must be a total deviation from the past approach and this new paramilitary organisation seems to have the right approach. Arms and weapons do not resolve conflicts but the UNC wants to use religion to appeal to the sensibility of Nigerians and create harmony,” Abdus-Salam stressed.
According to The Leadership, the conference was organised to enlighten community members on the significance of peaceful coexistence.
It will be recalled that earlier in the year, the Nigeria Police said they have started mopping up arms ahead. The move was initiated to ensure that the 2015 general elections in the country was a success.
The surveillance on public armouries across the country and the nation’s borders in order to checkmate illegal possession of arms, led to the apprehension of certain illegal arms dealers.
Porous borders have been blamed as key reason why the nation is filled with so much illegal arms. Hence, the House of Representatives have asked the federal government to check the menace of porous borders and proliferation of illicit weapons which is helping insurgency grow in the country.