ECOWAS COMMISSION MEETS NIGERIAN CIVIL SOCIETY PARTNERS TO STRENGTHEN SMALL ARMS CONTROL

PRESS RELEASE

Calabar Nigeria March 24 2022.





As part of the fight against the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria, the ECOWAS COMMISSION, through the OCWART project, organized a retreat for institutional coordination and joint planning of partners on strengthening the Small Arms Control in Nigeria March 22-24, 2022.


The overall objective of the Meeting was to have joint planning sessions indicating specific interventions of technical partners together with ECOWAS Commission at enhancing practical actions against Small Arms and Light Weapons proliferation in Nigeria.


Also, to Bring technical partners, CSOs and ECOWAS Commission together to appraise the national mechanism as well as control efforts against SALW management and control;


This meeting was attended by the key technical partners and selected CSOs, working in the field of SALW Control and Governance. The Coordination and Joint Planning Meeting is an important mechanism at ensuring that all partners are updated on the current situation as well as the overall context of SALW challenges in Nigeria.


In his Opening remarks : Nanan PieX Joseph Ahoba Chief of Division Small Arms said that : It is only through unity and pooling of resources that the threat of arms & human trafficking issues will be addressed in our community.

He also indicated that the Fight against small arms proliferation is a necessity for Nigeria and all other ECOWAS member states.


The ECOWAS Commission while presenting the new guidelines to be followed and the actions carried allowed organizations to present some Update on current and future activities in support arms management and control in Nigeria


The participants were collectively acquainted with activities/interventions on SALW control in Nigeria based on composite reports received and Nigerian CSOs updated with current situation of SALW Instruments and their implementation in Nigeria for a Joint plan on the SALW control in Nigeria.


This meeting also made it possible to have an Update on the National Commission on Arms as well as the Review of the FireArms Act and brainstorming on how to facilitate the transformation of the newly created National Center on Small Arms into a fully-fledged National Commission on Small Arms and the passage of the Nigeria Firearms Bill into law;

Also, to Develop joint proposals to enhance interventions on SALW control in Nigeria.


Its common knowledge that the ECOWAS Region is faced with various challenges related to the proliferation, illicit circulation and trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW). The continued incidences of proliferation fuels terrorism, kidnapping, banditry, armed robbery, communal conflicts, farmer/herders’ crisis, political crisis among others. The SALW threat poses setbacks to the collective peace, stability and security in the ECOWAS Space resulting in widespread destruction of lives and properties. It is More so apparent in the frontline states of Burkina, Niger, Mali and Nigeria, where the menace of terrorism, kidnapping and banditry continue to thrive.

One of the potent regional responses to these crises, was the adoption of ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Their Ammunition & Other Related Materials. In June 2006, ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government promptly signed it and by September 2009, the instrument came into force as legally binding. In the institutional and implementation arrangement’s component of the Convention, it establishes the need for member states to put in place national commissions on SALW. In this regard, many member states responded positively based on the obligations of article 24 of the Convention, except The Gambia and Nigeria. The case of Nigeria is uniquely demonstrating high level of political will on the part of the government, but it is however, inhibited by consistent bureaucratic bottlenecks on the side of those saddle with tasks of implementing such policies.

This informed the decision of ECOWAS Commission to establish a platform for action, through a national retreat together with key related national CSOs, ECOWAS Commission and other global stakeholders with a view to proffering quick – fix solutions. Thus, the retreat will help appraise the nature and the extent of the challenges and the potential practical next steps that would support the necessary policies and action of the relevant government agencies, including the parliament.


Furthermore, the modest efforts of Nigeria with respect to the implementation of the ECOWAS Convention on SALW is being acknowledged and the persistent widespread availability of arms and ammunition. Nigeria has not had a fully-fledged National Commission on Small Arms for a long time, that will be consistent with the ECOWAS Convention on SALW but had had several adhoc arrangements that lasted for as long as the government that put them in place. Thus, ECOWAS Commission and technical partners feel that a workable joint approach should be in place to support these national efforts.

It has been the case with the FireArms Act of 1968 and its review, which ECOWAS supported substantially, but is yet to be passed by the National Assembly. This interaction will serve as motivation for the CSOs and other partners supporting these processes in Nigeria. It is the conviction of ECOWAS that until Nigeria has the right institutional Implementation legal framework, that they having been grappling with since 2001, the fight against arms proliferation will not be fully coordinated and that donors may be reluctant to freely continue to support Nigeria in this endeavour. It is the desire of ECOWAS to mitigate against these tendencies, that the boaster is needed that would trigger the required national awareness across board.


The event was convened in the context of the Organised Crime: West African Response to Trafficking (OCWAR–T) project by GIZ . OCWAR-T supports ECOWAS Member States and Mauritania in reducing TOC by strengthening national and regional structures and capacities and is fostering evidence-led policy and decision-making. Specifically, OCWAR-T supports efforts in enhancing criminal investigation and prosecution, improving small arms control and reducing human trafficking. OCWAR-T is an ECOWAS support project, co-funded by the European Union and the German Government.


This meeting also allowed the participants to discover roles and responsibilities of CSO in the region and gave the opportunity for the ECOWAS Commission to get updates on the activities of technical partners and CSOs as they relate to SALW Control in Nigeria.


For more information on the OCWAR-T Project, visit:

https://www.raosupportcellecowas.com/post/organised-crime-west-african-response-to-trafficking-ocwar-t


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