The Buhari Media Organization has reacted to the comments by General Abubakar Abdulsalami (Rtd) of the Peace Committee, where he claimed that over 6 Million illegal arms were in the country, with the group stating that although this figure is yet to be factually verified, the Federal Government is making serious efforts at mopping up and seizing illegal arms from criminals and traffickers. 

In a statement signed by its Chairman, Niyi Akinsiju and its secretary Cassidy Madueke, BMO stated that the government has successfully mopped up hundreds of thousands of illegal arms and ammunition in the past five years from criminal elements through its security forces.

“Several Taskforce Enforcement Teams have been set up by the Police Force to mop up arms across the country in the past few years. They have operated in various states across the country’s six geopolitical zones and have successfully recovered hundreds of thousands of arms and ammunition from unauthorised persons. 

“These Task Force teams have acted in line with the Firearms Act, which empowers security agencies like the Police force to recover all prohibited firearms and illegally acquired weapons.

“The arrest of notorious suspects and terrorist kingpins have also led the Nigerian Police to seize and recover weapons from criminal gangs across the country.

“In September 2020, security forces successfully neutralised the notorious gang-leader that was known for terrorising most of the Middle Belt States, Terkwase Gana, and consequently recovered several rifles, pump-action guns, ammunition and explosives from him and his gang members. 

“In the past couple of years, thousands of bandits and kidnappers have been apprehended by the Nigerian Army, and their cache of arms and ammunition seized.

“The Nigerian Customs, too, has confiscated thousands of weapons headed into the country procured by criminals. This is also the case with the Navy, as well as other security agencies that have been instrumental to intercepting and seizing weapons bound for the country,” the group stated. 

The group stated that while several “wild and unascertainable figures” of illegal firearms in circulation in the country were being bandied in the public space, President Buhari’s government was not unaware of the problem and that it was working assiduously to tackle the challenge. 

“While several figures are in the public space of how much illegal firearms are in circulation, most of which are unverifiable or simply outrageous, the government of President Buhari is not underplaying the seriousness of the issue and is doing all that is within its means to fish out the criminals behind the proliferation of illegal firearms. 

“Yet, the government cannot eliminate the scourge of illegal firearms alone. It needs the absolute cooperation of citizens to share information and intelligence of the activities of criminals and the movement of illegal arms and ammunition with the country’s security agencies.

“Communities and their leaders must understand that they have a role to play in helping the government mop up illegal firearms around them. They must cooperate with the security agencies if we must end insecurity.”