By Tordue Salem – Abuja
A bill for a law to allow worshippers at religious places to possess firearms, including Churches and Mosques, is underway in the House of Representatives.
The Bill titled “An Act to Establish Dangerous Weapons, To Provide for the Prohibitions of Possession of Dangerous Weapons Intended to be Used for Unlawful Purposes and for Related Matters” is sponsored by Hon. Ossai Nicholas Ossai (PDP-Delta), and exclusively obtained by VANGUARD.
The Bill though prescribes a ban on certain categories of persons from carrying weapons, it exempts a host of others, including worshippers.
Section 2 of the proposed law, states that this “Act does not apply to the following activities: “possession of dangerous weapons in pursuit of any lawful employment, duty or activity; possession of dangerous weapons during the participation in any religious or cultural activities,or lawful sport, recreation, or entertainment; or legitimate or lawful collection, display of exhibition of weapons”.
The piece of legislation, however, bars people it considers unlawful users of dangerous weapons from bearing same.
It states in Section 1 that: “Any person who is in possession of any dangerous weapon (firearms) under circumstances which may raise a reasonable suspicion that the person intends to use the dangerous weapon for any unlawful purpose, is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years”
It adds that “in determining whether a person intends to use the object as a dangerous weapon for an unlawful purpose, all relevant factors, including but not limited to, the following must be taken into account,
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“The place and time where the person is found, the behaviour of the person, including the making of any threat or the display of intimidatory behaviours, the manner in which the object is carried or displayed, whether the possession of the object was within the context of drug dealing, gang association or any organized crime or any other criminal activity”.
The House resumes plenary on Wednesday, October 2. A debate on the Bill is expected to follow.