The European Union (EU), ECOWAS, LITE Africa and the Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons (PRESCOM) jointly have destroyed 260 arms and 5,510 ammunition in Calabar at the UJ Esuene Stadium.
The arms and ammunition were recovered from ex-militants, suspected armed robbers and cultists in the state.
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As part of the programme, about 150 repentant militants from the state will benefit from the Alternative Livelihood Project.
Joel Bisina of LITE-Africa, on behalf of ECOWAS and EU, said the proliferation of arms had a devastating effect on Nigeria and the West African Region and that the programme was aimed at addressing the peace and security challenges of West Africa.
She explained that, “One cannot underestimate the dangers of illicit proliferation of small arms, light weapons and the negative impacts they have on peace and stability of our community.
“In Nigeria, the commercial transaction in small arms and light weapons has been on the increase since the end of the civil war.
“LITE-Africa, PRESCOM, with the support of EU/ECOWAS, is working to strengthen efforts at preventing proliferation and trafficking of small arms and light weapons in Nigeria.”
Speaking at the event, Governor Ben Ayade implied that much of the weapons that had flooded the country and his state came from Libya following the collapse of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, as well as the Ambazonia conflict in South West Cameroun.
Ayade asserted that, “With the collapse of the Gaddafi regime, young men/women with him in Libya started migrating downwards from North Africa.
“As this persisted, the choice/option of the use of weapons to secure a means of livelihood became imperative to them.
“Different religions/ethnic colourations of these young men became radicalised and militarised to different forms – from Boko Haram to bandits to kidnappers – and so social habits and people changed psychologically.”