By Levinus Nwabughiogu
•Say that will expose innocent Nigerians to more danger
•Insist Executive order can’t override Act of Parliament
•Urge President to sign National Commission Against Proliferation of Small Arms Bill
ABUJA — THE House of Representatives, yesterday, asked President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately rescind his decision to withdraw licensed guns from their owners.
The resolution followed the consideration and adoption of a motion, which came under Matters of Urgent Public Importance, titled: “Motion on the Need for Mr. President to Rescind the Executive Order to Remove, Revoke and Banish all Firearms Certificates and Licences Throughout the Country,” at the plenary.
Besides, the lawmakers said the executive order cannot override an act of parliament, just as they urged the President to sign into law the bill on the establishment of the (National) Commission against the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.
Sponsored by Nnenna Ukeje, representing Bende Federal Constituency of Abia State, she said the motion became necessary due to media reports that the President recently signed an executive order compelling all gun owners to surrender their licensed guns to the state authorities, with the aim of checkmating the rising cases of banditry, kidnapping and other forms of criminality in the country.
But in their reckoning, the lawmakers argued that licensed guns weren’t the ones used to perpetrate crimes.
According to the members, withdrawing the guns would further expose law abiding Nigerians to danger, as they would be the target of “mindless criminals and bandits.”
They called on the security agencies to rather go after the criminals, who were carrying out their nefarious acts with unlicensed guns.
Moving the motion, Ukeje said: “The House notes with concern the rising spate of insecurity in our country, and worried that insecurity which was hitherto confined to the North-East, the North-Central states has spread rapidly to the North-Western states and all other parts of the country.
“The House is further worried that there is an increased number of deaths resulting from terrorism, kidnapping, banditry and other violent crimes, as it notes that in response to the local and international outcry and concern for Nigeria security situation, Mr. President signed an executive order to remove, revoke and banish all guns certificates and licences throughout the federation.
“It is concerned that this omnibus order targets illegal gun owners and their guns, while there doesn’t seem to be institutional actionable policy or plan to mop up small arms and light weapons that are at the centre of these crimes.
“The House is convinced that the high number of illegal guns is responsible, among others factors, for the increase in crime.”
Withdrawing licensed guns ‘ll worsen insecurity
Contributing to the debate, Edwards Pwajok from Plateau State, stated that withdrawing duly licensed guns would make the owners vulnerable.
“Government should not expose Nigerians to all forms of attack because criminals will not go for licence because that will expose them. I think he (President Buhari) should rescind that order and do every thing possible to mop up illegal guns.
‘’This order does not serve any purpose other than increase insecurity. I think the President should rescind that decision. It is ill-advised, and I think that this House should rise as one to support this motion,” he said.
Licensed guns owners not responsible for insecurity
Also speaking, Chika Adamu from Niger State said there was no empirical evidence to show that the owners of licensed guns were the ones perpetrating crimes.
“There is no empirical study to prove that. The danger is that it will make all of us very vulnerable to attacks. We have communities that people with licensed guns provide security to their communities, for instance, engaging vigilante services and that to some extent, put fear in the minds of those hoodlums and that also secures the environment.
‘’We are pushing the society into chaos. If the government wanted to do anything new, it should have been re-certification, if there is need. If Mr. President wants all of us to be killed, I think he can take that decision, otherwise he should rescind it,” he said.
It ‘ll make everyone vulnerable
Segun Adekola from Ekiti State, in his contribution, said: “The order is to make everybody vulnerable in Nigeria. Anybody with secured licence for his or her gun wouldn’t want to be caught. I will advise that Mr. President should rescind his decision without delay. By the time people know that these guns are withdrawn, anyone can come and attack you.”
Similarly, Sunday Adepoju from Oyo State, stated that licensed guns were used for self-defence and protection.
He said: “Majority of those having guns that are licensed are well to do personalities in the country. For instance, in a community or area where there are those with legal guns, the moment hoodlums come close and they hear gunshots, they flee.’’
For Nkem Abonta from Abia State, government would be encouraging gun smuggling if the order was enforced.
Executive order can’t override Act of Parliament
“If you tell us to return, then you are now telling the criminals that the people are defenceless. If you withdraw licensed guns, you are now encouraging gun smuggling. You cannot also use executive order to override an act of Parliament,” he added.
Adopting the motion, the House also granted the second prayer which urged the President to “sign into law the bill on the establishment of the (National) Commission against the proliferation of small arms and light weapons which is not only a domestic law but also a treaty obligation to help the nation curb the inflow of illegal weapons.
In a related development, the House also urged the federal government to immediately mobilize engineers in the Ecological Fund Office to combat environmental threat at Nkwo-Edo Market at the industrial/commercial hub of Nnewi in Anambra State.
It also asked the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, to urgently provide needed support to those whose shelter and businesses have been disrupted.
The resolution was sequel to the adoption of an infrastructural motion sponsored by Chris Azobuogu which stated Nnewi, the commercial and industrial hub of Anambra State, had been under serious ecological threats occasioned by gully erosion.
According to the lawmaker, the erosion has cut off the major entrance to Nkwo-Edo market through the 100- foot road and also destroyed properties worth billions of Naira.
In passing the motion, the House mandated its joint Committees on Environment, Ecological Fund and NEMA to ensure compliance.