Small Arms and Light Weapons in the country have been a major concern to the Federal Government as it combats insecurity in the country. Air Commodore J. F. Adeleke (Retd.) has been involved in the discourse to ensure arms get off wrong hands in the country. He was a facilitator at the just concluded UNDP sponsored Zonal Training of Trainers Workshop For Security Agencies on Effective Border Management in Lagos. Adeleke, a Member of the Federal Republic, told journalists at the event why arms should not be in the wrongs hands. He also emphasised Nigerians should not be gullible to believe just anything from the rumour mill. DAYO EMMANUEL here reports. Excerpts:
The Bill on Small Arms and Light Weapon is at the National Assembly can you assure us of the synergy between the members if the National Assembly and the military on this Bill?
I’m not a politician. I think they are doing their job and they are doing it properly. There shouldn’t be any disagreement. Members of the National Assembly are Nigerians, member of the armed forces are also Nigerians. So when they put the necessary instruments in place, there will be results. Armed forces members are Nigerians politicians are Nigerians, you cannot divide the two; they are same Nigerians and being paid by tax payers’ money. There is always synergy because we are drawing from same pool. Just that one is political, one is military, what are we all fighting for? We are fighting for same objectives so the synergy is always there, I don’t know how you see it.
Over 70% of Small Arms and Light Weapons in the country are in the hands of civilians and it’s a bit worrisome. You have been involved in the mopping up of arms do you think we can get to a point where these arms can be reduced drastically?
Of course everything is possible. It is the will power; you cooperate with the military, you give them the necessary information, they would get those arms out of the wrong hands. It is a matter of give them what they need to work with and they will get you the necessary peace you need. They also need it.
You have been involved in helping the government in mopping up arms while some other people have also been calling on Nigerians to defend themselves in the wake of the recent killings and insecurity in the land. In fact there have been rumours making the rounds that calling people to surrender arms may make some other groups vulnerable. Do you think the government can totally get arms out of wrong hands in the midst of incessant killings?
I don’t believe in rumour. Let’s work on empirical proofs. Let us have peace. There are laws and order. If the Federal Government passes a law, you must obey; are those carrying arms licensed to carry arms? If you are not licensed and you are carrying arms, that means you are a criminal. The government has the details and data of the ones that are licensed. The Federal Government says submit arms, of course if you don’t submit it, it is documented but I know most of them won’t submit because most of the arms they are carrying are not licensed. In carrying arms, there are arms you can carry. Some of these people carry arms the security operatives should be carrying. When you carry arms you should not carry then your second name is criminal.
Don’t you think the farmers on the fields are equally endangered when herders carry arms?
That is debatable. Because if you say herders are carrying arms, can you show me five pictures of cattle rearers carrying arms? Let’s talk with facts. With a simple phone now you can take pictures. Let me see. Don’t let us be gullible and just believe anything anybody says. If we have empirical proves, we can prove that okay you saw this cattle rearer carrying guns. Of course if it is not licensed then it is illegal. He is a criminal. So let’s have proofs. If we see something happening, let us have facts, if you can’t show me facts then it is baseless.