Ned Nwoko the lawmaker representing Delta North senatorial district, has requested for the introduction of a bill that allows civilians to own and carry firearms, in other to protect theirselves due to the non stop insecurity saga.
He noted that the bill was important following the security challenges, particularly the recent Plateau killings of December 24, where no less than 100 civilians were killed in the attack.
He said, “An amendment bill allowing civilian firearm ownership must be introduced in the Senate.
“My bill on self-defense and firearms ownership regulation, currently listed in the Senate awaiting its first reading, deals with this pressing issue.
“I am pleased that the topic has gained national significance, sparking diverse opinions and discussions that predominantly fall into two camps – one in opposition and the other in support.”
Senator Nwoko added, “It’s evident that the existing security measures have not been sufficient in safeguarding our communities.
“Allowing law-abiding citizens to possess firearms could potentially provide a sense of security and a means to protect themselves and their families from immediate threats.”
The Delta lawmaker noted that to avoid sabotage and abuse, several streams of control must be exercised to ensure control.
He said, “However, it is crucial to emphasise that the initiative to permit firearm ownership is accompanied by stringent regulations and comprehensive training.
“This approach ensures that firearms are in the hands of responsible individuals who understand the gravity of such ownership and are equipped to handle these weapons safely.
“The illegal smuggling of arms is a significant concern due to the prohibition on bearing arms. Introducing licensed dealerships for firearms could potentially address this issue by creating a regulated avenue for legal firearm acquisition.”
He added, “This move not only seeks to curtail illegal arms trafficking but also provides an opportunity for generating income through licensing fees and taxes imposed on these dealerships.
“The revenue generated from licensing fees and taxes on firearm dealerships could be allocated towards bolstering law enforcement agencies, improving security infrastructure, and implementing initiatives aimed at addressing the root causes of insecurity.”
Nwoko explained that the qualifications for firearm ownership must involve obtaining references from four medical doctors affirming mental soundness, endorsement from the local government chairman for community validation, a traditional leader’s (such as the king) guarantor role emphasising cultural trust, and confirmation by the Divisional Police Officer to verify the absence of criminal involvement.
He stated, “These requirements aim to ensure a comprehensive vetting process, emphasising mental fitness, community support, cultural ties, and a clean record for responsible firearm ownership.
“Proposed firearms for civilian ownership include single and double-barrel shotguns, pistols with a maximum capacity of six rounds, pump-action shotguns, and any other types suggested by the Ministry of Defence.
“This selection offers diverse options suitable for self-defense while emphasising control, regulation, and expert recommendations to ensure responsible ownership and mitigate potential risks associated with firearm possession.
“Nonetheless, this approach necessitates a meticulous regulatory framework and oversight to prevent any adverse consequences and prioritize public safety above all else.”
This is not the first instance where a political figure is championing for Nigeria’s right to bear arms.
The House of Representatives Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, in 2022, said Nigerians must be allowed to take up arms and defend themselves against terrorists.
The then Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, in 2020 also reiterated his appeal to the Federal Government to allow responsible Nigerians bear arms to defend themselves.
“If the bandits, terrorists and criminals know that where they are visiting to attack or destroy property and steal, the people around there have sophisticated weapons like they have, they will caution themselves,” he said in a media briefing.