Pub[l]ic perception on proliferation of small arms and light weapons in Abuja, Nigeria: implications for peace and security.
Ola, Adegboyega Adedolapo.
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Small arms, having the attributes of being readily available and easy to use, have been the primary tool of the terrorist attacks in every part of the world including those of Abuja, Nigeria. Wide availability, accumulation and illegal flow of small arms tends to escalate conflict, terrorism and insecurity; and hinder development, social stability and good governance. The main objective of the study was to examine public perception on proliferation of small arms and light weapons and it’s the impact on peace and security in Abuja, Nigeria. The specific objectives were to examine the factors that stimulate the proliferation of small arms and light weapon in Abuja, Nigeria; examine the relationship between small arms, terrorism and insecurity; assess the nature of the threat posed to peace and security in Abuja, Nigeria; examine the strategic options that were utilised by the Nigerian security sector to enhance peace and security in Abuja, Nigeria. The study adopted a mixed method research approach involving a descriptive survey design. A sampling of 113 and 20 respondents was adopted quantitatively and qualitatively in the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC). The major findings were that: (i) the ineffective control of small arms led to their proliferation, accessibility and availability in the possession of unauthorised users in Abuja, Nigeria causing various terrorist attacks and great havoc in the city; (ii) rogue military and security personnel aided the proliferation of weapons to the possession of illicit users; (iii) lack of a national database and registration of small arms and light weapons, along with the absence of an effective marking, recording and tracing system for SALW also contributed largely to the proliferation of small arms; (iv) there is a positive correlation between the availability of small arms and terrorist attacks, it was also discovered that the proliferation of small arms and light weapons is a major cause of terrorism in Abuja; and (v) terrorism is a major factor that threatens peace and security in Abuja, which led to the death of many civilians and loss of properties. Based on the findings, it was recommended that: (i) the Nigerian government should increase the strength of the regulating agencies in charge of the Nigerian borders such as the Nigerian Customs Service, Nigerian Immigration, Nigerian Police, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency and other security forces, which should be provided with adequate and functional modern technical equipment for arms detection; (ii) establish an arms bearing national body or agency that will monitor and guard the stockpile, diversion and misuse of small arms and light weapons in the country; (iii) the 1959 Nigeria Fire Act should be reviewed and amended in accordance with the Economic and Community of West African State Convention (ECOWAS) and the United Nations Programme of Action to prevent and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects (UNPoA); (iv) the Nigerian government should seek assistance and cooperate with foreign countries and relevant agencies towards resolving the issue of illegal arms trade into the country in order to reduce and control the problem of small arms proliferation; (v) the civil society groups should cooperate better with the government in terms of arms control and the fight against illicit arms.