By Jonathan Ugbal; Government House Correspondent
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) commission in a bid to contain the rippling effect of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALWs) proliferation has disclosed plans to establish a national database and register for SALWs in her member states.
The Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security of ECOWAS Commission, Mrs. Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman, said this in her speech at the opening ceremony of the three day meeting to review activities of the National Commissions (NATCOMS) on SALW of member states held in Calabar, Cross River State capital.
Salamatu said in the coming months, implementation of the overall European Union (EU) support to ECOWAS peace and security mandate will kick off with several activities which include; stockpile safety and security, establishment of national database and SALW register as well as strengthen exemption process and computerization in member states.
Furthermore, Salamatu disclosed that the Commission was ‘experiencing growth in the collective effort at combating the menace of small arms in our countries’ which according to her was a challenge demonstrated in the Sahel (the region of transition between the Sahara desert to the north and the Sudan Savanna to the south) and in northern Nigeria due to the porosity of borders that allow easy accessibility of military-style weapons to non-state actors.
Earlier the chairman Nigerian Presidential Committee (PRESCOM) on SALW, Ambassador Emmanuel Imohe commended ECOWAS for its wisdom in creating the forum, for supporting National Commissions in their task of stemming the tide of illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons.
His words, “The problem of proliferation of illicit SALWs in West Africa is a hydra headed monster that must be resolved as quickly as possible. The Nigerian government is sufficiently seized with this problem and is committed to ensuring that we collectively dismantle the template from which the problems of insecurity are drawing support. Nigeria has demonstrated this commitment by signing and ratifying the relevant international, regional and sub-regional instruments and legal regimes on the subject of SALW control”.
Imohe went on to reveal that the committee since inception has been participating in the NATCOM’s annual fora. “Between the last fora in Priai, Cape Verde 2014 and now, the committee among other achievements has been able to implement the ECOWAS convention on SALWs as well as other aspects of its mandate”.