By Sumaila Ogbaje
The European Union (EU), says it earmarked 24.4 million Euros to combat illicit trafficking in Small Arms and Light Weaponds (SALW) and strengthen cross-border cooperation in West Africa.
The EU Programme Manager, Organised Crime West Africa Response to Trafficking, Enobong Moma, made this known at a roundtable on the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons in Nigeria, on Thursday in Abuja.
The roundtable has the theme, “Mapping the Landscape of SALW Proliferation in Nigeria: Gaps and Opportunities”.
It was organised by the National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (NCCSALW), in collaboration with Mines Advisory Group.
Moma said the funding was part of regional efforts to combat organised crime and trafficking in persons in the sub region.
She said the intervention was to support ECOWAS and its member states including Nigeria, in promoting peace, security and stability in West Africa.
According to her, a lot of resources are required to finance projects and activities to eliminate the circulation of illicit small arms and light weapons in countries and communities, to promote development.
“In 2019, the pilot phase of an earlier intervention in the area of small arms was succeeded by the ongoing Organized Crime West Africa Response to Trafficking (OCWAR-T) programme, implemented by the GIZ and a consortium of implementing agencies.
“With a total budget of EUR 24.4 million this project is part of the regional effort to combat organised crime and trafficking in persons in West Africa.
“By reducing the availability and illicit trafficking of SALW at border community level and strengthening cross-border cooperation as well as the capacity of national actors on SALW control.
“Broadly speaking, our programmes aim to strengthen the organisational capacities of National Commissions on Small Arms (NatComs) including the organiser’s of today’s event, the NCCSALW.
“Its objective is also to improve public education and civic awareness on SALW proliferation and improve National Commissions’ and security sector institutions’ technical capacities in the field of SALW control,” she added.
The EU official said the operational capacities of various small arms control centres and their structures were also strengthened to effectively reduce organised cross-border violence and availability of weapons within communities.
Other activities, according to her, include arms marking and provision of relevant equipment.
She said the achievements signaled some of the many evidences of the successful partnership between the EU, ECOWAS Commission, development partners and government agencies.
Dr Sani Adamu, Head of ECOWAS Peace Support Operation, said the roundtable was a practical demonstration of the political will by the Nigeria towards implementing the key provisions in the convention on ECOWAS policy on arms transfer.
Adam said that Nigeria was the only country in the ECOWAS subregion that had so far fully and practically institutionalised the end user certification process when it import arms.
He said the ECOWAS was taking the Nigerian initiative as a model, adding that there had been significant efforts in terms of political will and resources to fight the scourge of illicit arms proliferation.
“What is consistently missing is the need to put in place the institutional as well as implementation arrangement and the need for legislation,” he added.
Matthias Dold, First Secretary, Political Councilor, German Embassy, said the German government had offered support in improving national and regional framework and structures to combat Transnational Organised Crime and illicit trafficking in the subregion.
Dold said they worked with ECOWAS member states in improving national and regional SALW control regimes by operationalising international agreements, including the UN Programme of Action.
He said they also supported the NCCSALW and other security agencies in Nigeria in the areas of Physical Stockpile Management, including training in weapons and ammunition management, weapons destruction, and the provision of armories.
These, he said, were meant to curb diversion of arms and ammunition into unauthorised hands.
According to him, as the largest democracy in Africa, Nigeria plays an important role in the stability of the region and the continent.
“This stability begins by equipping Nigeria with the infrastructure and expertise to manage their national stockpiles to mitigate the risks of diversions and establish an accountable and effective security sector.
“This shows that Nigeria is committed to reducing the threat posed by the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons and improving the safety and security of all Nigerians,” he said. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Maharazu Ahmed