…Says Internal Affairs Minister
August 7, 2015
The Minister of Internal Affairs, Joseph Dauda has launched Small Arms and Light Weapons programme in the northern city of Makeni over the weekend saying that the project will seek to “minimize the potential accumulation of illicit arms in the town and villages along the borders.”
The project is implemented by the Sierra Leone National Commission on Small Arms (SLeNCSA) in collaboration with the Economic Community West African State (ECOWAS), European Union (EU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The project launch which attracted local authorities, government officials, security officials, civil society organizations and development partners is a pilot weapons collection programme that will target border towns and villages in ECCOWAS countries including Niger, Mali, Guinea, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone. It hopes to collect arms in exchange for development activities, which would be made possible through the 5.6 Million Euros funding from the European Union.
The Minister of Internal Affairs, Joseph B Dauda added that the project would build on the gains made by the Arms for Development project in 2004 and added that “All our land borders are very porous, crisscrossed by a thick network of illegal crossing points. Numerous transactions take place along these areas. We cannot exclude the exchange of goods or money for illicit arms in these transactions. I believe that the impact of this project would go a long way in minimizing the potential accumulation of illicit arms in the town and villages along the borders. I am happy that the first activity of the project is community education. This will allay whatever apprehension they might have concerning the project.”
Dr. Frederick Ampiah, Partnerships Adviser for the ECOWAS-EU PSS Project at UNDP Nigeria said the project responds to many UN/ECOWAS protocols, and there have been significant successes in the foundation stage so far. “This project has a very strong purpose in the Mano River Union. ECOWAS and UNDP hope to involve local communities to ensure coherent inclusion. This project is owned by ECOWAS, funded by EU and implemented by UNDP. Traditional leaders who know their communities better cannot be left out,” Dr. Ampiah said.
Many participants raised concerns regarding the use of shotguns as a source of livelihood for some farming and hunting communities, protection from wild animals and that families would perish if these livelihood means were taken away.
But the Small Arms Commission Chairman, Rtd. Brigadier Modibo Lymon was quick to inform that another function of the commission is the registration of firearms used by the security forces and hunters.
The Chairman of SLeNCSA said the project is in the spirit of collective responsibility, to ensure that the sub-region is safe from the proliferation of illicit small arms and light weapons. He emphasized the need to restrict the spread of small arms, especially in post-conflict countries, as they pose a very great threat to society.