The Nigeria Police Force has commenced moves to recover unlicensed firearms from politicians and Very Important Persons across the country.
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This followed the directive of the acting Inspector-General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, who ordered the various state police commands to recover arms in the hands of uncertified bearers.
Egbetokun had last week set up an ad hoc committee tasked with the comprehensive review of firearms licensing and regulations by the NPF in line with the Firearms Act and other extant laws.
The police high command revealed that the committee’s mandate would encompass a thorough assessment of current firearms licensing procedures and regulations to enhance their effectiveness, transparency, and accountability.
Accordingly, the Delta State Police Command has assured that no one would be spared, including politicians, cultists and other bearers of illegal arms in the state.
The command spokesman, Bright Edafe stated this in an interview with The PUNCH in Asaba, the Delta State capital.
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Our correspondent had asked the command’s spokesman if the illegal firearms seizure would be extended to cultists and VIPs, including politicians.
He said, “We have been doing that even before the directive. They (illegal arms bearers) are part of those we have been parading.
“Nobody has a licence to bear arms apart from the vigilante whom the police had approved.
“Remember that the last time, following Commissioner of Police Abass’ directive, we mopped up some illegal arms in the Ekpan area of the state and the command will continue in that direction to ensure all illegal arms are mopped up.”
Also speaking, the Osun State Police Command spokesperson, Yemisi Opalola, said the command would enforce the IG’s directive to the letter and ensure that illegal arms were retrieved across the state.
She said, “Since IGP has given the directive, no one with illegal arms in the state will be spared. We will do our work and spare no one.”
The Gombe State Police Commissioner, Oqua Etim, pledged the readiness of the command to enlighten the public before a clampdown exercise would begin.
Etim disclosed this in a telephone interview with our correspondent while reacting to the IG’s order to police commands nationwide.
He urged the public to provide relevant information that would help his men in tracking those possessing arms illegally.
He said, “You know it’s a directive; we will do our part. It’s a civic responsibility. We will work based on information from public-spirited people like you. If you know two or three people who have acquired arms illegally, let us know.
“You can also help us sensitise others because it’s for our common good. That’s exactly how we intend to go about it. We will sensitise people.
“I can’t clampdown on anybody I don’t have information on; It’s only when someone sees someone carrying arms or I see you knowing that you were not given an official permit to carry it.”
Meanwhile, the Sokoto State Police Command said it was awaiting further guidelines from the appropriate authority to know how to go about the exercise.
The spokesman for the state command, Ahmad Rufa’i, explained that “the directive was yet to reach the command.”
“I cannot comment for now. I’m sure you know the IGP only set up the committee recently and the committee will have to come up with their guidelines.
“The issue of arms is a very sensitive matter, so when it gets to the command, we can comment on the modalities,” he said.
But a security expert, Timothy Avele, argued that mopping up arms with the spate of insecurity in the country would achieve little or no result.
He said, “What method do they intend to implement this time around that’s different from others before now? Increasing insecurity is pushing citizens into acquiring more arms all over the country.
“Therefore, the move will yield very little positive results, if any, and not until such a time when the citizens’ security can be guaranteed. People will continue to source for illegal arms which are readily available in the country if they have money to buy. “
He advised the police to engage in intelligence-led policing in order to contain the pockets of insecurity across the country.
“I would rather advise the security agencies, especially the police, to re-strategize into intelligence-led policing than the current reactive policing being practised,” he added.
An analyst, Oladele Fajana said, “I do not know the approach they want to deploy to mop up arms. Will it be voluntary or the application of force? It will be beneficial if it can be done because the proliferation of arms is one of the reasons insecurity is on the rise in the country.
“Also, would the politicians and VIPs be willing to release theirs? How do they intend to carry it out is my issue.”