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Nigeria: Minister warns over Arms Proliferation

Nigeria’s Minister of Police Affairs Minister, Alhaji Adamu Waziri, has warned that proliferation, circulation and trafficking in small arms and light weapons in Nigeria and the African sub-region, if not decisively addressed, will sustain political violence, kidnapping, trafficking, smuggling and other related crimes.

Waziri, who identified political violence, kidnapping, international terrorism as serious challenges to the development of the country warned that these criminal activities must be tackled head-on by all the nation’s security agencies. He said the federal government was resuscitating specialised police training programmes in counter terrorism, crime detection and border policing to enable them rise to the situation.

Speaking at a Security Conference 2010 titled “Emerging Security Trends in Nigeria,” the minister noted that in view of the critical role of the police in this regard, the federal government had embarked on the transformation of the force into an effective, efficient, responsive, transparent, proactive and people-friendly organisation.

He added that the ministry was providing the “committed and focused leadership for the realisation of the vision.

As a pointer in this regard, he said, a six-year Police Reformation Programme designed to fundamentally change the orientation and operational efficiency of the Nigeria Police to enable it meet the challenges and public expectation in the 21st century had been put in place.

Some components of the programme, according to Waziri include the need to address the institutional and individual weaknesses of the Police by embarking on capacity building, procurement of modern policing equipment and ensuring attitudinal changes of officers and men with the view to enhancing the operational efficiency of the police.

Waziri noted that the six-year programme which will be funded by the three tiers of government and the private sector, is an addition to introduction of the Safe Cities Project of the Federal Government and the creation of Community Safety Partnership in Police Divisions. The Safe Cities Project which identified seven cities namely Abuja, Lagos , Kano , Onitsha , Port Harcourt , Ibadan and Maiduguri is designed to bring crime to a manageable level there.

Earlier in her address, one of the organisers of the event, Mrs. Victoria Ekhomu, regretted that the nation “is beset with myriad of security challenges, such as kidnapping, terrorism, civil disturbances, political violence, fraud, assassination, armed robbery – a fact which necessitated the conference where workable solutions would be proffered.”

She said insecurity fuels capital flight, as some businessmen have taken flight from the country along with their businesses for fear of being kidnapped, “even some expatriates have already been kidnapped, others now avoid assignments to our country.” The insecurity has disrupted socio-economic and political activities in Nigeria , to the extent that most credible and respected personalities are scared off politics, a development she said should be discontinued through workable security policy and a synergy among security agencies.