Border communities have been blamed for shielding gun smugglers allowing the proliferation of light arms and small weapons, fueling insecurity in the country.
Dixon Orji, the program director of the Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons (PRESCOM), made this known on Monday in Abuja.
He spoke to journalists at the training workshop for security agencies on physical security and stockpile management activities to reduce the risk of illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in the Sahel region.
Orji, who represented the chairman of PRESCOM, Ambassador Emmanuel Imohe, said, “Those who do gun-running across our borders pass through communities, and sometimes the communities shield them, which is a big, big issue for us.”
He said, “We have identified some communities in Nigeria, through which these people pass with their arms.”
“The problem is how to get these communities to understand that they are doing this country a big disservice by allowing and not reporting these set of activities,” he said.
He noted that, “Sometimes it is understood that they are keeping quiet because they are afraid for their lives, afraid of the threat that these people pose to them.”
He said, “But we have to let them know that government can protect them so that we can stop the supply of these arms.”
“They don’t pass through check points, they pass through bush paths, we did a research on trans-border criminality and found that some people pass these weapons from Mauritania all the way to Chad,” he said.
He also said the training programme on physical security and stockpile management to secure government stock piles would ensure there are no leakages.
He said PRESCOM conducted arms destruction in Benue, Katsina and Zamfara states where about seven thousand weapons were destroyed.
He added that PRESCOM have also engaged seven state governments and ask them to commence civilian disarmament in their various states.
He said this is part of an ECOWAS-EU small arms project in the North West targeting Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi, Katsina and Kaduna states while in the South-South; Akwa Ibom and Cross-River states.
He added that under the ECOWAS-EU project alternative livelihood to those who surrender their weapons is provided.
Earlier, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC) Political Affairs Officer, Rumongi Jean Bosco said its goal is to support member states eradicate light weapons and small arms proliferation.