Tensions in Eleme as SPDC Maneuver to Start Oil Production in the Area

Tension in Eleme as SPDC Maneuver to Start Oil Production in the Area

Investigations by Eleme Research Foundation has revealed that the people of Eleme and Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) may engage in a fresh hostilities following what the Elemes called SPDC’s attempt to pitch some group of Elemes against the people in order to resume oil production activities in the area.
The Eleme Research Foundation (ERF), after its monthly meeting in Ogale yesterday, said it was outraged by confirmed reports of renewed attempts by SPDC to commence oil production activities without any agreement with the Eleme people.
In a statement signed by the Director of Research and Documentations, Goda Osaro Ollornwi, the Foundation said, “We are aware that SPDC is not only after commencing oil operation activities in Eleme, but also to use Eleme as a base from where to drain Ogoni oil”.
The actions of Shell have already created tension across the whole of Eleme. In Ebubu, Ogale, Onne, Akpajo, Ekporo, and Agbonchia communities, SPDC is attempting to activate its oil wells, manifolds, flow stations, and pipelines under the protection of the Joint Task Force (JTF) and recruited thugs.
The resistance against SPDC’s unwelcome activities including pitching our people against themselves in an attempt to resume oil production in Eleme has led to threat to lives and other conflicts that have inflicted pains on innocent people and the leadership of Eleme Research Foundation is appealing for a refrain to avoid fatal clash.
The Foundation also pointed out that during one of the meetings of the SPDC’s created “Eleme Cluster of SPDC-GMoU” held on 2nd August, 2013, at the Covenant Faith International Church, Alesa, there was an exchange of bitter words between the two factions of Akpajo community’s representatives that almost resulted into an open fight. Another argument which erupted between Ebubu and Aleto representatives took the timely intervention of the house to prevent a further open confrontation. Then came the blowing of fire by an Onne representative that turned into a fracas, which eventually led to the closure of the meeting.
“The moves that SPDC has made in the last couples of days are inconvertible steps in resuming oil productions in Eleme. SPDC has repeatedly stated that it is not interested in resuming oil production in Ogoniland without the express consent of the Ogoni people, which invariably includes Eleme. Yet, today, despite a failing peace process, we are seeing specific steps being undertaken by force to resume oil operations in the area. The moves by SPDC to alienate and separate Eleme from Ogoni, fragment and factionalize the people and then begin its oil activities is another attempt to kill our prominent sons and daughters as it did in 1994/1995.
“The SPDC double standard is made manifest. On one hand, Shell has taken inconvertible steps in forcefully resuming oil production activities in Eleme. On the other hand, Shell is maneuvering and tricking the Elemes into signing an enslavery and exploitative unilaterally doctored agreement which it christened “Global Memorandum of Understanding” to deceitfully claim the people’s consent and resume oil activities.
The statement further revealed that SPDC has been holding secret meetings with 3 representatives from each of the 16 oil producing communities of Eleme to indoctrinate and convince them into endorsing the kangaroo “Global Memorandum of Understanding” which has nothing global in it nor has anything favourable for Eleme people.
“Towards the execution of its alternative strategy (in case the forceful re-entry fails), on Thursday June 20, 2013, SPDC, through its paid contractors – Treasure House Consult – organized an orchestrated training tagged, “Negotiation Skills for Community Discussants: An SPDC’s GMoU Project for Operational Areas” for the 48 community representatives. The training which lasted for a whole day surprisingly came to climax with the presentation of an already prepared agreement by SPDC for signing. The signing of the “Global Memorandum of Understanding” which SPDC christened “Ice Breaking” in the Program was turned down by the 48 wise men and women from the 16 oil communities of Eleme to the astonishment of Shell. The communities’ representatives requested among others time: to study the SPDC produced agreement; to enable them revert to the communities for wider consultation; make quality inputs; and the right to reject the purported GMoU if found unacceptable by the Eleme people, a position which SPDC reluctantly succumbed to.
After the training session and the aborted agreement signing ceremony held at Presidential Hotels, Port Harcourt on Thursday June 20, 2013, the secret meeting reconvened twice: first, on Monday 22 July, 2013 (although postponed due to unsafe venue as the over 50 people stocked into a room met for maximum of 30 persons refused to proceed with the discussion), and secondly on Tuesday 23 July, 2013 at SPDC (Industrial Area) Office, Room B4, 244, with Shell failing to break the deadlock. Since then, the behind the scene underground moves by SPDC has been intensified and this is already generating tensions in Eleme.
Meanwhile, it is being rumoured that some persons have been empowered to write a letter to SPDC purporting to be the position of Eleme people, requesting Shell to commence oil production activities in the area. In this regard, we therefore call on SPDC to ignore such letter as it did not emanate from a consensus opinion on the issue. We are also pleading with SPDC to immediately stop the onslaught, or be held responsible for any breakdown of law and order in Eleme, as the developments provocatively assault our collective interest and threaten peace in our communities. We would resist SPDC through every legal means at our disposal.

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SUNDAY SERMON – PREPARING NIGERIAN SOLDIERS TO ENGAGE CHILD SOLDIERS

SUNDAY SERMON – PREPARING NIGERIAN SOLDIERS TO ENGAGE CHILD SOLDIERS

Introduction
Nigeria is fighting wars on a number of fronts these days. We have been fighting the ongoing global war on terrorism. On the home-front, we are combating Boko Haram in northern Nigeria; there is ongoing war against oil theft mafias in the Niger Delta; the battle against militia warlords is also in progress in several fronts across the country. The leaders of these wars on the other side have persistently featured child soldiers in their illegal, criminal campaigns against the country, thus posing serious operational challenges to our soldiers. Their activities are not only threatening the corporate existence of the country, but also posing severe danger for next generation.
Who is a child soldier?
A child soldier is anyone under the age of 18 who is part of any kind of regular or irregular armed force or armed group in any capacity. The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers explained that, “Child soldiers perform a range of tasks including participation in combat, laying of mines and explosives; scouting, spying, acting as decoys, couriers or guards; training drill or other preparations; logistics and support functions, portering, cooking and domestic labour; sexual slavery or other recruitment for sexual purposes”.
Child Soldier s: Alien to Pre-Colonial Nigerian Societies
The doctrine, or use of child soldiers was unknown in all the pre-colonial countries that were later knitted together to form Nigeria. When considering warfare in traditional Nigerian setting, children rarely come to mind. In real traditional Nigerian cultures, war is assumed to be a place for only the strong, brave, and willing, from which the young, the old, the infirm, women and the innocent are not only excluded but supposed to be afforded special protection. The exclusion of children from warfare held true in all Nigerian traditional cultures. In pre-colonial Nigerian tribal armies, the general practice was that the warriors normally joined four to five years after puberty. In the stateless countries of the Niger Delta, it was not until the ages of 18 and 21 that members were eligible for enrollment into the village regiments. Similarly, in pre-colonial Kano, only married men were conscripted, as those unmarried were considered too immature for such an important and honoured task as war.
The ranks and files of the pre-colonial Nigerian tribal armies known as “Akoda” and “Olopa” in Western Nigeria, “Dangary”, and “Yan Gardi” or “Yan Doka” in Northern Nigeria, and “Danduka” in Eastern Nigeria consisted mainly of adult soldiers who perform protective duties, served as messengers to the Kings in various capacities, in courts, palace, and while traveling. They also fought wars, defend their territories, and maintained internal security.
When the British arrived, there were no traces of child soldiers in these armies. They applauded both the legality and legitimacy of the constitution and composition of the local forces. In reaction, the British cherished their usefulness, encouraged their continued existence and recognized them as “enforcers” of local laws, “keepers” of peace and order, and “protectors” of Kings.
When children of lesser ages did serve in ancient Nigerian tribal armies, they typically did not serve in combats. Instead, they carried out more menial chores, such as herding cattle, bearing shield and mats for more senior warriors. There is no trace of traditional Nigerian tribes or ancient civilizations reliant on fighting forces made up of young boys and girls. This is a reflection of the general importance of age grades as traditional ruling structure long cherished in Nigeria. These social groupings determined by age cohorts cut across ties created by kinship and common residence thus enabling senior rulers and tribal elders to exercise control and maintain command over their younger and potentially unruly subjects. Throughout the thousands of years of tribal wars, children were never an integral, essential part of any military force in what becomes known as Nigeria today.
Also, the available weapons of war in pre-colonial Nigerian cultures did not favour child soldiers. For example, in the pre-colonial Eleme army known as “Ejε” only men of 20 years old and above were the choice men eligible to go to war, who could handle spear and shield.
Origin of Child Soldiers in Nigeria
History of the origin of child soldiers in West Africa in general and Nigeria in particular will be incomplete without mention of role of the British, the propagators of the doctrine in Nigeria. The British introduced the use of child soldiers in Nigeria. The establishment of the Boys Company of Nigeria (now Nigerian Military School), Zaria modeled after the Boys Wing of the British Army marked the genesis of child soldiers in Nigeria. Between its formation on May 20, 1954 and the abolition of direct absorption of child soldiers into the Nigerian Army in 2009, the Nigerian Military School (NMS), Zaria, which was established along with three others in the British West Africa colonies of the Gambia, Gold Coast (now Ghana), and Sierra-Leone, has turned out well over 3,000 child soldiers.
In a statement in Abuja on 15 September, 2011, the then Col. O. U. Abdul, Director of Army Information revealed that, “the Nigerian Military School, Zaria was established to in 1954 to meet up with the basic academic and manpower requirements of the Nigerian Army in the early days of Nigeria’s independence”. He admitted that “the administrative burden of managing the Nigerian Military School produced child soldiers was not only cumbersome but the system contravene the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and also falls below the relevant UN standards”. He announced that in 2009 the Nigerian Army abolished the direct absorption of child soldiers from the Nigerian Military School, Zaria into the Nigerian Army”, in line with the UN Convention on child soldiers.
Security Challenge of Child Soldiers in Nigeria
Over the years, child soldier has emerged a serious security challenge in Nigeria. During the Nigerian-Biafra War (NBW) child soldiers featured prominently on both sides; and it is estimated that not less than 100,000 child soldiers were killed in combat and another 150,000 were murdered by hunger. Child soldiers are also playing active roles in the ongoing crisis rocking the country. The child soldiers or child terrorists’ activities in various parts of modern Nigeria calls for proper training, equipping and support for our professional soldiers to deal with this dreadful change in contemporary warfare. Political and military leaders must begin to wrestle with the difficult dilemmas that our soldiers now face in the field rather than continuing to ignore them at greater costs. The onus is on our leaders, in government and the military to do all that they can to reverse the spread and end the terrible practice of using child soldiers/child terrorists.
With the rising of groups using child soldiers in Nigeria, our military forces, home and abroad, must prepare themselves for the task ahead. Our troops will have to put themselves in a situation where they face real and serious threats from insurgents whom they generally would prefer not to harm. Of course, they may be youngsters, but when combined with the increasing simplicity and lethality of modern small arms and light weapons, child soldiers often bring to bear a great deal of military threat.
Therefore, Nigerian soldiers must be prepared for the tough decisions that they will be confronted in order to avoid any confusion over Rules of Engagement (ROE) or the micro-second hesitations, because of shock at the composition of their foes or uncertainty on what to do when faced with a child soldier or child terrorist as young as 9 years of age, that can prove lethal. An effective, timely response will also take away some of the perceived advantages of the child soldier doctrine, making it less likely to be used.
Preparing the Military for Child Soldiers
Experiences have proved that there are a number of effective techniques to handle situations when professional soldiers are confronted by child soldiers or terrorists. These include:
1. Preparation
There is urgent need for military commanders and policy-makers to develop official policies and effective solutions to counter the dilemmas that child soldiers raise rather than wishing the problem away.

2. Intelligence
The national intelligence apparatus must be overhauled to become attuned to the threat and ramifications of child soldiering. This is not only important in forecasting broad political and military events, but knowledge of the composition and structure of the adversary is also a critical factor in determining the best response. Intelligence should be sensitive to three aspects in particular. These are:
a. What methods of recruitment the insurgent utilizes.
b. The core use to which the child soldiers are put.
c. The average child soldier’s period of service.
Those using abduction techniques will be more prone to dissolving under shock than those with voluntary recruits or children who have been in service for many years or who joined based on ideological conviction.
3. Threat Recognition
Whenever troops deploy into an area known to have child soldiers or terrorists present, they must take added cautions to counter and keep the threat at a distance. Although all children are not threats and certainly should not be regarded as such, protection measures must include the possibility or even likelihood of child soldiers and terrorists. It is important to change the practices of letting children mingle among troops, and even putting children through the same scrutiny as adults at checkpoints.

4. Create Fear with Firepower
During engagement with child soldier forces, the best practice is to hold the threat at a distance and where possible, initial fire-for-shock is recommended. The goal is to maximize efficiency and prevent costly peripheral-fatalities by attempting to break up the child soldiers units, which often are not cohesive fighting forces. This forms part of a micro-level application of effects-concentrated warfare without the overwhelming dependence on high technology.

Demonstrative artillery and mortar fires, including the use of smoke, rolling barrages, which gives a sense of flow to the impending danger added with helicopter gunship passes have been proven especially effective in breaking up child soldiers’ forces.

5. Use Nonlethal Weapons
The use of nonlethal weaponry gives more options. However, be cautioned, because total annihilation of the enemy in these instances may actually backfire. The international community and human rights organizations are unpaid watchdogs of crimes against humanity. They cannot be bullied or bribed from monitoring and reporting how you fight your wars and manage your crisis. In this regard, whenever possible, military commanders and policy-makers should explore options for using nonlethal weaponry in situations that involve child soldiers or terrorists.

Armchair generals often ignorantly mock nonlethal weaponry, overlooking that it in no way eliminates the option of deadly force. Rather, its availability will provide our troops in the field with added choices and options. Nonlethal weaponry is a welcome alternative that may not only save lives on both sides but prove more effective to meeting operational goals. With the rising army of child soldiers and terrorists in Nigeria, the military need well over 50 nonlethal weapons kits to aid its internal security operations.

6. Identify and Pin Down the Leader
When forced into engagement with child soldier forces, professional soldiers should prioritize the targeting and elimination of any adult leaders if at all possible. Experience has revealed that their holds over the units are often the center of gravity, and units will dissolve if the adult leader is taken out of a position of control.

As forces seek to mop up resistance, they should focus their pursuit on the adult leaders that escape. Failure to do so allows the likely reconstitution of forces and return to conflict, as has become a recurrent theme in child soldiers’ fueled Boko Haram insurgency in Borno State.

7. Employ Psychological Operations
Psychological operations should be integrated into the overall efforts against local resistance including being specially designed for child soldier units. The primary goals should be to convince child soldiers to stop fighting, leave their units, and begin the process of rehabilitation and reintegration into society.

At the same time strategy should be developed to ensure that insurgents leaders know that their violations of the laws of war are being monitored and the dire consequences they will face in using child soldiers/terrorists.

Psychological operations should also seek to undercut any support for the use of child soldiers within the local community, by citing the great harms the practice is inflicting on the next generation; its contrast to local customs and norms; and the lack of honour in sending children out to fight adults’ wars.

8. Institute Follow-Up Procedures
The defeat of a child soldier-based insurgency does not just take place on the battlefield no matter how successful. Measures must be taken to welcome child soldier escapees and prisoners of war (POW) quickly, so as to dispel any myths on retribution and to induce others to leave the insurgency as well. This also entails preparations being made for securing child detainees, something the Nigerian military have had no doctrine or training for, even down to not having proper sized cuffs. Once soldiers have ensured that the child does not present a threat, any immediate needs of food, clothing and shelter should be provided for.

As soon as possible, the child soldier should be turned over to healthcare or non-governmental organization (NGO) professionals. The business of imprisoning juveniles is not the mission of the military and certainly not positive for the health of the military institution.

9. Protect Military Personnel
The military must also look to the health of its own personnel. Our military and political leaders must brace up to the fact that the protectors need protection. The vulnerability of our military and law enforcement officers and their families to targeting and attacks was brought to the fore with the recent massacre of over 100 officers in Nasarawa State and attacks on various military and police formations across the country with little or no resistance.

The military must be ready to deal with the psycho-social repercussions of engagement with child soldiers, for this is an added way that the use of child soldier puts professional soldiers at a disadvantage. Units that participated in the operations should be subjected to post conflict treatment and even individual counseling, otherwise the consequence of being forced to engage children may ultimately undermine unit cohesion and combat effectiveness.

10. Adopt Explain and Blame Strategy
Public affairs specialists and analysts should be prepared before hand for the unique repercussion of such engagements. In explaining the events and how children ended up being killed, they should stress the context under which they occurred and the overall operation’s importance. The public should also be sensitized that child soldiers or terrorists, although they are children, are just as lethal behind an assault rifle as adults. Importantly, public affairs specialists must seek to turn blame on where it should properly fall, on those leaders that not only illegally pulled children, indoctrinate them, drugged them into the military sphere but also send them out to execute their nefarious activities.

SUNDAY SERMON – IMPACTS OF SMALL ARMS AND LIGHT WEAPONS IN ELEME

SUNDAY SERMON – IMPACTS OF SMALL ARMS AND LIGHT WEAPONS IN ELEME
Eleme is not an exemption to the devastating effects of gun violence. Of recent, Eleme has recorded over 30 painful gun-violence related deaths. These gun violence which include but not limited to cultism, political violence and armed robbery have killed many; left many maimed, and frustrated several families. From Akpajo to Ekporo and from Agbonchia to Onne, the stories are the same.
This scenario points to the danger ahead as we approach the 2014 Local Government Elections in Rivers State and the 2015 General Elections. Agreed the Eleme Youth Council is sensitizing the citizenry to stop political violence in Eleme, stop over-heating the polity and to consider elections as not a do or die affairs. Talks and write-ups are not enough, especially in an environment where the youths detest printed-matters and the reading culture is fast decaying. Actions are required NOW to reorient the youths because it is the youths that bear arms: they are the agents of gun violence and they are the users of these killer machines.
A word for our youths is imperative here. Those who have lost one or two of their own to cultism or politically motivated gun violence abound in our communities. In tears, they have been narrating the bitter, painful tales of how they lost their love one to gun violence to who cares to listen. Their experiences are not only pathetic but also frustrating. Apart from losing a promising member of the family, they suddenly find themselves relegated to the background and forgotten by the socio-political system that murdered their relations. Replay this drama in your mind-eyes; imagine the pains, the frustrations and the sufferings.
The proliferation of small arms in Eleme is of great concern to security practitioners in the area. In addition to the above sources many of these small arms and light weapons in Eleme can be traced to the Eleme and Okrika communal conflicts; others are linked to the recent Niger Delta “militants for negotiation for development” operations. These weapons outlast these conflicts.
Still others were purchased by the criminally minded to terrorized innocent citizens and residents and dispose them of their belongings.

Other sources of these arms are known to us all. The suppliers of these weapons are with us. The purchasers of these instruments of human destruction are known to us. The users of these war machines are our brothers and sisters. Government officials, military officers, politicians, entrepreneurs, traditional rulers, religious leaders and elites in various communities are known to have encouraged and financed the acquisition and use of weapons by youths to execute ethno-religious and inter/intra communal conflicts. And as pointed out earlier, these weapons outlast these conflicts and are taken up again and again in the post-conflict period by criminal gangs, vigilantes, dissidents, insurgents or individuals concerned about personal security for diverse purposes. The possession of a gun is a matter of survival and protection from attack. Gun is an instrument of seizure of property, murder, kidnapping and so on. No week passes without news of gun violence resulting to loss of human life. No region or state in Nigeria is spared; no community is safe from the bullets of the killers. The situation is pathetic. Until our security agencies begin to monitor, investigate and prosecute the money-bags who procure and supply arms and use money to entice the youths into violence the problem will remain with us and will continue to increase in both scope and devastation. Private jets, fuel tankers and vehicle fuel tanks, rice and garri bags and all sorts of craftily created spaces have been used to convey arms into and within the country. The increasing number of transporting agents, coupled with the flexibility of arms mobility across Nigerian borders and within the country, calls for all hands to be on desk to check arms buildup in the country as 2015 General Elections approaches. There is therefore urgent need for the government to put all necessary machinery into motion to mop-up these arms.

The Federal Government of Nigeria must rise up to check the misuse of small arms and light weapons by moving aggressively to reduce their availability, institute tougher gun control laws with more and better-trained police to enforce them. The “Money-for-Gun” strategy should be pursued aggressively to collect weapons in wrong hands. Communities and schools should be encouraged through prizes and awards to declare their community/premises gun free so as to reduce the allure of small arms and light weapons.
The strategy has worked in few communities where it has been implemented. But, this cannot be done successfully with the present arrangement of multi-agencies coupled with rising rivalries among them. There is therefore urgent need to establish National Agency for the Control of Small Arms (NACSA) charged with the responsibility of checking illicit proliferation and trafficking in arms; regulating the acquisition and use of arms; registering and licensing of gun ownership; carrying out periodic audit of guns and their possessors in the country; enforcing appropriate sanctions and doing those things incidental to the control of the legal acquisition and use of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria.
The National Agency for the Control of Small Arms (NACSA) is needed now, backed by an appropriate legislation to marshal a coordinated effort at all levels (Federal, State, Local Government, Ward and Community) to check the rising cases of illicit proliferation and trafficking in small arms and light weapons in Nigeria and its consequential loss of human lives and properties.
Guns are not pens; bullets are not books; hard-drugs are not hard-currency-scholarships to give to our youths. As a youth, rethink before you carry that gun. Consider the implications before you pull that trigger. To be a good citizen, ask your BOSS, the SPONSOR to give you writing implements not killer machines; tell him to give you books not bullets; let him know that you need scholarship to study not hard-drugs to propel you into killing others.

GUN VIOLENCE IN NIGERIA

GUN VIOLENCE IN NIGERIA

Proliferations of small arms and light weapons (SALWs) in Nigeria have been a source of concern to the citizenry, the Government, non-governmental organizations and the international community. Apart from the attendant loss of lives and properties, gun violence have maimed many, traumatized many more for life and continually pose several challenges to the Government including the problem of how to check the movement of arms into the country and how to control its illegal acquisition and use.
Small arms, which include rifles, pistols, and light machine guns, are filling Nigeria graves in ever-increasing numbers – from the streets of Western Nigeria to the swamps of the Niger Delta and the Sahara desert of Northern Nigeria, the story is the same; more small arms and light weapons more deaths.
The international community, over the years has searched unsuccessfully for agreement on the regulation of the international trade in small arms. Nigeria like many other African countries, the United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations are grappling with the human and development consequences of gun violence and seeking to reduce both the supply and the demand for these weapons of choice for the killers of our time.
Reducing the availability and use of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria has become increasingly important to the nation’s development prospects. The widespread abuse of weapons in the country diverts scarce resources from education, health and public infrastructure to public security.
It also discourages investment and economic growth and deprives the country of the skills and talents of the victims of small arms and light weapons.
It is estimated that the total number of guns held by civilians in Nigeria is 2,000,000. The rate of private gun ownership in Nigeria is put at 1.5 firearms per 100 people. In comparison of the number of privately owned guns in 178 countries, Nigeria ranked at number 34. The number of handguns in Nigeria is estimated to be 1,000,000; while unlawfully held guns are estimated to be 0.71 firearms per 100 people.
These light arms – lightweight, highly portable, and devastatingly effective in the hands of even very young and poorly trained users – come into the country through our borders, though mostly illegally.
The 30 months Nigerian Civil War, the Cold War coupled with the eventual collapse of the Soviet bloc brought flood of small arms and light weapons into Nigeria and many other African countries. The cut-rate-prices at which these arms were put on the international arms market by manufacturers boost demand and encourage illegal acquisition and use.
These durable killing machines find their way into the hands of insurgents, militias, criminal gangs and ordinary people left vulnerable to violence by ineffective policing and simmering ethnic conflicts. In Nigeria, the Soviet-designed AK-47 assault rifle, coveted for its simplicity and firepower can be purchased for as little as $100. The proliferation of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria constitutes a major threat to development. Their low cost, ease of use and availability have continue to fuel violence in Nigeria, undermine peace, intensify terrorism, encourage crime, impede economic and social development and hinder social stability and cohesion, and thwart democracy and good governance.
In Nigeria today, guns are not just the weapons of choice but also weapons of mass destruction. The introduction of suicide bombing into the Nigeria scene does not only revolutionaries violence but also added another dimension to the problem of mass murder in the country. The disclosure by the International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law, Nigeria concerning over 54,000 unlawful deaths in Nigeria since 1999 arising from ethno-religious and inter communal/intra-communal conflicts, vigilante killings, political and other socially motivated assassinations is alarming. Apart from revealing the lack of respect for human life in the country, the report painted an ugly picture of a failed state and the inability of its security apparatus to guarantee security of its citizens and residents.
The existence of intelligence and law enforcement organizations such as the State Security Service (SSS), the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA),the Nigeria Police (NP), the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), the Nigerian Custom Service (NCS), the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) have not helped matters, especially regarding the control of the acquisition and use of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria. The durability of small arms and light weapons ensures that once they are present in a country they present continuous risks, especially in societies where there are large accumulations of weapons.
The culture of violence is being promoted in Nigeria because of the low cost, ease of use and ready availability of guns. Besides, gun ownership has become a symbol of power and status in the country. Gun violence is today a first resort for the settlement of personal and political disputes. Disagreement over the ownership of a piece of land between two communities or cattle grazing land is enough for parties to pull out guns.
Recently, at Makudi in Benue State, the Chief of Army Staff General Azubike Ihejirika called for the establishment of an agency to check the proliferation of small arms and light weapons. Speaking at the end of the Combat Support Arms training week organized by the Nigerian Army Engineers, Gen Ihejirika canvassed for the inclusion of internal security as primary responsibility of the armed forces to combat contemporary security challenges bedeviling the country. While, I welcome the call for an agency to check the proliferation of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria, I disagree with the idea of making internal security a primary responsibility of the armed forces. Internal security is the basic responsibility of police. The military can only give a helping hand when formally asked to do so by civil authority. This is the arrangement in civilized countries.
The sources of these arms are known to us all. The suppliers of these weapons are with us. The purchasers of these instruments of human destruction are known to us. The users of these war machines are our brothers and sisters. Government officials, military officers, politicians, entrepreneurs, traditional rulers, religious leaders and elites in various communities are known to have encouraged and financed the acquisition and use of weapons by youths to execute ethno-religious and inter/intra communal conflicts. These weapons outlast these conflicts and are taken up again and again in the post-conflict period by criminal gangs, vigilantes, dissidents, insurgents or individuals concerned about personal security for diverse purposes. The possession of a gun is a matter of survival and protection from attack. Gun is an instrument of seizure of property, murder, kidnapping and so on. No week passes without news of gun violence resulting to loss of human life. No region or state in Nigeria is spared; no community is safe from the bullets of the killers. The situation is pathetic. Until our security agencies begin to monitor, investigate and prosecute the money-bags who procure and supply arms and use money to entice the youths into violence the problem will remain with us and will continue to increase in both scope and devastation. Private jets, fuel tankers and vehicle fuel tanks, rice and garri bags and all sorts of craftily created spaces have been used to convey arms into and within the country. The increasing number of transporting agents, coupled with the flexibility of arms mobility across our borders and within the country, calls for all hands to be on desk to check arms buildup in the country as 2015 approaches.

The Federal Government of Nigeria must rise up to check the misuse of small arms and light weapons by moving aggressively to reduce their availability, institute tougher gun control laws with more and better-trained police to enforce them. The “Money-for-Gun” strategy should be pursued aggressively to collect weapons in wrong hands. Communities and schools should be encouraged through prizes and awards to declare their community/premises gun free so as to reduce the allure of small arms and light weapons.
The strategy has worked in few communities where it has been implemented. But, this cannot be done successfully with the present arrangement of multi-agencies coupled with rising rivalries among them. There is therefore urgent need to establish National Agency for the Control of Small Arms (NACSA) charged with the responsibility of checking illicit proliferation and trafficking in arms; regulating the acquisition and use of arms; registering and licensing of gun ownership; carrying out periodic audit of guns and their possessors in the country; enforcing appropriate sanctions and doing those things incidental to the control of the legal acquisition and use of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria.
The National Agency for the Control of Small Arms (NACSA) is needed now, backed by an appropriate legislation to marshal a coordinated effort at all levels (Federal, State, Local Government, Ward and Community) to check the rising cases of illicit proliferation and trafficking in small arms and light weapons in Nigeria and its consequential loss of human lives and properties.