- The firearms bill 2021 was passed on Wednesday, June 30, by the Senate after passing the seconding reading
- Senator Uba Sani, who represents Kaduna Central at the red chamber, is the sponsor of the bill, which criminalise bearing of illegal firearms
- The lawmaker said the bill was informed by the frightening statistics on the proliferation of illegal and illicit arms in Nigeria
FCT, Abuja - The Senate on Wednesday, June 30, finally passed the Firearms Act Cap F28 Laws of the federation of Nigeria, 2004 (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (SB.549).
Legit.ng reports that the bill was sponsored by the lawmaker Kaduna Central at the Senate, Mallam Uba Sani, would criminalise all forms of illegal firearms bearing in the country.
Uba noted that the Senate president, Ahmed Lawan, was effusive in the praise of his (Uba) intervention, stating that it is one worthy bill that deserves presidential assent.
The bill, which now has very stringent punishment for offenders, came on the heels of worrisome insecurity worsened by activities of the nation's non-state actors in recent years.
There is proliferation of firearms in Nigeria
Uba, who is also the chairman Senate committee on banking, insurance and other financial institutions, revealed that the frightening statistics on the proliferation of illegal and illicit arms in West Africa, especially in Nigeria, informed his decision to sponsor the bill.
"From available statistics provided by the United Nations Regional Center for Peace and Disarmament and Stockpile Management in Abuja, it was reported that the proliferation of illicit and small arms and light weapons in Nigeria has reached an alarming proportion.
"And over 500 million of such weapons are circulating in the West Africa Sub-Region, with over 350 million, which represents 70% of such weapons, are domiciled in Nigeria. They maintained that this development is worrisome, hence the need to have this legislation in place in order to provide for stringent punishments, to serve as deterrence in the concerted efforts to curtail the proliferation of illicit firearms and all associated crimes."
The lawmaker recalled that the bill went through a well-attended and result-oriented public hearing, saying that the unanimous support of all relevant stakeholders towards its passage along with the amendments was reflected in the draft bill submitted to the upper chambers for approval.
He noted that the Senate's approval led to three major developments on the bill which include the utilization of confiscated and seized firearms that are of military serviceable grades by the military or paramilitary organizations in line with best practices obtainable in some jurisdictions like the United States of America, India, Australia.
The senator stated:
"That the consequential amendment introduced by the Committee, which seeks to include other law enforcement agencies in section 38 of the Principal Act, is a welcome development because it is not only officers of the Armed Forces of the Federation and the Nigeria Police Force that are authorized to carry firearms and ammunition in the discharge of their statutory functions."
Senator Sani also expressed appreciation over the role of relevant stakeholders in the passage of the bill, notably the Senate president, the committee on judiciary, human rights and legal matters, and his colleagues in general for what he described as a milestone.
The lawmaker added:
"This is an important and strategic contribution to the efforts geared towards degrading criminal elements in Nigeria and restoring peace to our troubled communities."
Senate seeks stiffer penalty for illegal firearms bearers
Meanwhile, Legit.ng had previously reported that the bearing of illegal firearms in Nigeria may soon be criminalised if a bill seeking to impose stiffer penalties on the bearers finally becomes law.
It was reported that the bill passed through the second reading at the Senate on Tuesday, February 16.
It would provide for the destruction of firearms imported illegally into the country or in the possession of individuals without valid licences.