President Muhammadu Buhari has set up a new National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (NCCSALW) as part of steps to control terrorism and banditry.
The creation of the new centre was also attributed to the ongoing restructuring of the nation’s security architecture.
The development has led to the disbandment of the Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons.
The centre will, however, be domiciled in the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).
But, a former Military Adviser to the United Nations Office for West Africa, Major General AM Dikko (rtd) will serve as the National Coordinator of the centre.
A former Head of State, Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar, recently said there are over six million weapons in the country.
Although Abdulsalami was not forthcoming on how he arrived at the statistics, he said the weapons had aggravated the security challenges in the country.
He said: “The proliferation of all calibre of weapons not only in our sub-region in general and in Nigeria, in particular, is worrying. It is estimated that there are over six million such weapons in circulation in the country. This certainly exacerbated the insecurity that led to over 80,000 deaths and close to three million IDPs.”
But rising to the problems of illegal importation of arms and proliferation of weapons, Buhari has created a new centre to combat the menace.
According to a statement by the Head, Strategic Communication, Office of the National Security Adviser, Z.M. Usman, the President took the steps to address emerging threats.
The statement said: “President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the establishment of NCCSALW to be domiciled in the Office of the National Security Adviser.
“The NCCSALW replaces the defunct Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons and shall serve as the institutional mechanism for policy guidance, research and monitoring of all aspects of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) in Nigeria.
“This decision is part of the ongoing restructuring of Nigeria’s security architecture to address emerging threats and strengthen regional mechanism for the control, prevention and regulation of SALW.
“The impact of the proliferation of SALW across national borders in Africa and the Sahel region has resulted in terrorism, human trafficking, organised crime, and insurrections in West Africa and Nigeria.
“Therefore, as one of the measures in tackling this threat, the new centre will be fulfilling the requirements of the ECOWAS Moratorium on Import, Export, and Manufacture of Light Weapons as well as the UN Plan of Action to prevent, combat, and eradicate the illicit trade in SALW.
“The NCCSALW will serve as the National Focal Point on SALW in Nigeria and lead a multi-stakeholder process involving Government Ministries, Departments, Agencies and the Civil Society in implementing all national, UN and ECOWAS Plans of Action on the control of SALW.
“The centre will maintain international cooperation and also operate zonal offices in the six geopolitical zones to ensure quick response and effective mobilisation of resources.”
The statement said the pioneer National Coordinator, Maj.-Gen. Dikko (retd), served in various capacities in and outside Nigeria.