On Tuesday, the National Commission for the Coordination and Control of Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons raised concern over the proliferation and infiltration of arms and ammunition in Africa.
The agency said the development had fuelled conflicts in various parts of the continent.
In a statement issued in Abuja, the acting Director-General of NATCOM, Adejare Adegbenro, lamented that African countries collectively imported approximately $1.9bn worth of arms and ammunition in 2019.
He said while frantic efforts had been made for peaceful and prosperous Africa, the infiltration of arms from external sources remained a challenge.
“The arms trade in Africa has far-reaching repercussions, with various regions plagued by conflicts occasioned by the easy access to weapons. From insurgencies and civil wars to insurgency, banditry and violent crimes, arms proliferation has dwarfed the continent’s progress.
$1.9bn arms imported into Africa annually, says NATCOM
Infiltration of arms and ammunition from foreign producers heightens these issues, as they often end up in the hands of non-state actors and criminals, perpetuating instability and undermining development efforts.
“In 2019, African countries collectively imported approximately $1.9bn worth of arms, including ammunition, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. However, some of these arms and ammunition might have got into the wrong hands.
“For instance, in 2014, a UN group of experts monitoring the arms embargo on the Democratic Republic of Congo documented the presence of heavy machine gun ammunition bearing markings consistent with Chinese manufacture in armed group arms caches in the country’s North Kivu province.
“In its 2015 report, the group of experts established that this ammunition was originally part of a 2012 delivery of 12.7 × 108 mm ammunition from China to the Armed Forces of the DRC. Since it is illegal to bear arms except for those security agencies or non-state actors licensed to bear them, private individuals, with reckless abandon, procure arms for clandestine use. Hence, the need for a body like NATCOM to ensure the mopping out of illegal arms,” he said.
Adegbenro called for sanctions against arms producers and suppliers, fuelling conflicts.
“I believe sanctions on arms producers would restrict their ability to fuel conflicts, thereby reducing violence and instability,” he added.
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