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Economic Community of West African States; Nigeria; United Nations: Partnership to Fight Spread of Weapons

(Mar. 31, 2014) Nigeria has partnered with two international organizations, the United Nations and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in developing a weapons collection program for the unstable northern portion of the country. The purpose is to limit the spread of small arms and light weapons (SALW), considered key to the civil disorder. In addition, Nigeria is considering revising its firearms law. (ECOWAS, UN Partner FG [Federal Government] on Weapon Collection Program for North, THIS DAY LIVE (Mar. 4, 2014); Firearms Act (Feb. 1959), LAWS OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA 1990, ch. 146.)

The plan was announced on March 3, following a visit between the head of the Nigerian Presidential Commission on SALW, Emmanuel Imohe, and the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace, and Security, Slamatu Hussaini-Suleiman. (ECOWAS, UN Partner FG on Weapon Collection Program for North, supra.) Nigeria is one of the 15 member states that comprise ECOWAS. (ECOWAS Member States, ECOWAS website (last visited Mar. 5, 2014).) ECOWAS has expressed concern about the violence in Nigeria, including the February 25 attack on a college in Yobe State. (Press Release, No. 037/2014, Statement by ECOWAS Commission on Latest Terrorist Attack on Nigeria (Mar. 3, 2014), ECOWAS website.)

Speaking about the plan, Hussaini-Suleiman said, “[l]ooking at the incessant insecurity issues in the northern part of Nigeria, the Arms for Development Initiative of the ECOWAS Commission has discussed with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), for [an] Arms Collection Project to be dedicated and executed for that section of Nigeria. (ECOWAS, UN Partner FG on Weapon Collection Program for North, supra.) She added that the project to collect arms would be created in collaboration with the Nigerian government and that she hoped it would begin “as soon as possible.” (Id.)

Imohe noted that the plans were already being formed by Nigeria, stating, “ECOWAS will be providing the framework that we are going to be working with but the initiative is from the national committee, the presidential committee, which will be working along the lines of the rubrics provided by ECOWAS.” (Id.) He also referred to Nigeria’s 1959 firearms legislation, saying, “[i]t is no longer in tune with the current day realities, especially the issues of SALW. It needs to be either repealed, and [a] new one created or updated and we are working on it.” (Id.)