A two term Chairman of Yakurr Local Government Area of Cross River State, Obol Ubi Itam Ettah, was like all the recent high profile cases, kidnapped by heavily armed gunmen. Ettah is an oil baron known also as Bomboi. He served as council chairman from 2007 to 2013.
Reportedly, he was violently abducted on Tuesday at his fueling station, Wenwon Muka in Ugep a few days to the annual Leboku festival. Local sources say he was whisked away by five gunmen wielding AK 47s.
The kidnapped businessman is a chieftain of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). We are informed that he was in charge of the Ekori Paradise Toothpick factory constructed by the Cross River State Government and later defected to the Democratic People’s Party (DPP) to contest for the Cross River Central Senatorial seat.
In line with the characteristics of fickle Nigerian politicians, he again defected to All Progressives Congress (APC). He is said to have found his way back to PDP after Governor Benedict Ayade dumped the party that made him politically to APC.
In Kaduna and Plateau states, a global rights group, Amnesty International reports that the failure of the Buhari administration to protect lives and properties has enabled the bloody attacks in some communities of the two states.
Amnesty International claimed on Tuesday that at least, 112 people were killed and thousands displaced from July to August 5, 2021, in communities in the two states, pointing out that despite signs of retaliatory attacks, not enough was done to avert the
bloodshed, thereby fueling the ongoing circle of violence.
The rights group is asking Abuja to bring perpetrators of the violent attacks to book before issuing statements to condemn attacks. According to it, “…Our findings show that despite clear signs that there will be retaliatory attacks, enough is not being done to prevent the bloodshed, thereby fueling the ongoing circle of violence.’’
Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, says “beyond issuing statements and condemning attacks after they happen, the government needs to rein in attackers and bring suspects to justice.
“Amnesty International’s investigation shows, at least, 78 people were killed and 160 abducted by bandits between July 3 and August 5, 2021, in Kaduna state, including 121 school children of Bethel Baptist Church High School. At least, 34 people have been killed in Plateau state, including seven herders who were attacked on July 1, at Dogon Gaba; two others were lynched at Fusa Village while trying to locate their missing cow.’’
Villagers from farming communities informed Amnesty International that innocent people and communities that know nothing about the attacks are, sometimes, targeted for reprisal. It is quite worrisome. It’s like much is not being done to mop up
guns everywhere in the country. And, the security situation might be worse as the country approaches 2023. Desperate power seekers are unrelenting in arming their political foot soldiers.
This is even in spite of the fact that early last May the Buhari administration established an arms control centre to combat security problems in the country.
President Muhammadu Buhari approved the establishment of a National Centre for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (NCCSALW) to be domiciled in the Office of the National Security Advise. While announcing the birth of NCCSALW, the Office of the National Security Adviser said the agency was set to serve as the institutional mechanism for policy guidance, research and monitoring of all aspects of small arms and light weapons in the country.
“This decision is part of ongoing restructuring of Nigeria’s security architecture to address emerging threats and strengthen the regional mechanism for the control, prevention and regulation of SALW”, the statement added, stressing also that the
impact of the proliferation of small arms and light weapons across national borders in Africa and the Sahel region has resulted in terrorism, human trafficking, organised crime and insurrections in West Africa and Nigeria.
The Boko Haram terror group launched a bloody insurgency in 2009 in North-East Nigeria but later spread its atrocities to neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a military response. More than 30,000 people have been killed and nearly three million displaced in a decade of Boko Haram’s terror activities, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says.
Apart from the menace of unknown gunmen across the troubled country, violence committed by Boko Haram has affected 26 million people in the Lake Chad region and displaced 2.6 million others, according to the UN refugee agency.
Countries in 2001 adopted the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (PoA). In the instrument, governments agreed to improve national small arms regulations, to strengthen stockpile management, to ensure that weapons are properly and reliably marked, to improve cooperation in weapons tracing, and to engage in regional and international cooperation and assistance.
Within the PoA framework, UN General Assembly adopted the International Tracing Instrument (ITI) in 2005, a global instrument for cooperation in weapons tracing. Improving weapons tracing is now part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable
Development. Together, both instruments constitute the normative framework on small arms and light weapons, which all UN member states have agreed upon.
Periodically, states are expected to report on the implementation of the PoA and ITI and review implementation efforts at Biennial Meetings of States and Review Conferences. Additionally, countries have held Meetings of Governmental Experts (MGE) to benefit from the knowledge of technical specialists on matters pertaining to small arms control.
The global framework of treaties and instruments also includes the Firearms Protocol and the Arms Trade Treaty. In addition, there are regional instruments and regional roadmaps to control and regulate small arms and light weapons.
The UN General Assembly comprising of all 193 member states of the global body, adopts annually the omnibus resolution on “The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects” as well as the resolution on “Assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and collecting them”. Both resolutions mandate the UN’s small arms process and are informed by the annual report of the Secretary-General to the General Assembly.
The Security Council, the primary organ of the UN responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security, remains actively seized of the small arms and light weapons challenge. It has addressed small arms and light weapons-related issues across its agenda, from Security Sector Reform to arms embargoes to counter-terrorism
and sustaining peace, while also treating these matters in country-specific and regionally-focused contexts.
The Security Council in 1999 first addressed the issue of small arms as a standalone agenda item. In 2013, the Council adopted Resolution 2117 (2013) on small arms, which focused on the illicit transfer, destabilising accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons. Resolution 2220 (2015) contained further provisions aimed at
bolstering international cooperation, effective implementation of UN arms embargoes and support to the Arms Trade Treaty. The Council issued Presidential statements on small arms in 1999, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2007.
Beginning in 2008, the Secretary-General has reported regularly to the Security Council on this issue in the form of a substantive report, traditionally on a biennial basis, and in 2019, a resolution dedicated to the African Union’s flagship initiative “Silencing the Guns in Africa” was adopted. The effective implementation of relevant arms control instruments and regimes, in particular those related to small arms and light weapons, are referenced in several parts of the resolution, thus illustrating the criticality of tackling illicit arms to achieving a conflict-free Africa.
The use of arms- and ammunition-related language, principally related to small arms and light weapons, in UN Security Council resolutions has evolved significantly over the last three decades. This evolution reflects the increasing variety of UN operations, weapons and ammunition management-related challenges and programmatic responses, as well as the emergence of new multilateral conventional arms control frameworks and practices.
The Human Rights Council regularly addresses the impact of arms transfers and civilian acquisition, possession and use of firearms on human rights. It thereby focuses on the impact of arms on the enjoyment of human rights and promotes efforts to protect those rights more effectively.
The UN Coordinating Action on Small Arms (CASA) is the system-wide internal-agency coordination mechanism on small arms, the arms trade, ammunition and armed violence issues. Since its inception in 1998, the CASA has been taking stock of diverse and specialized expertise of 24 UN partners from a wide variety of perspectives, including economic and social development, human rights, disarmament, organised crime, terrorism, conflict prevention, peacekeeping, public health, environment, gender and children.
CASA aims to innovate itself as the main platform for coordinating holistic UN action to assisting states like Nigeria where violence has virtually become a daily affair regarding the aforementioned issues, as a key component of the Secretary-General’s prevention agenda.
Most recently, CASA focuses on supporting country-level programming by leveraging closer cooperation within the UN and with regional actors and civil society. UNODA also actively supports the comprehensive mainstreaming of gender perspectives
in all dimensions of small arms and light weapons control.
While we are hoping that Nigeria under President Buhari’s watch will effectively take advantage of the global mechanism, Abuja should try to broadly tackle the socio-economic issues giving rise to small arms proliferation. The scourge of exclusion,
religious terrorism, political repression, ethnic bigotry, and out-of-control mass poverty are threatening to bring the ‘’geographical expression’’ known as Nigeria to its knees.
There is not much the armed security forces can do when the festering cancer of Nigeria’s problematic national question becomes an epidemic. The popular support of the agitation for Oodua Republic in Western Nigeria and the recurrent success of the IPOB sit-at-home order in Eastern Nigeria, are all indicators of the emerging peoples’ movement that could result into the Nigerian Spring. We saw it coming in the EndSARS protests. And, we are seeing guns everywhere with bandits and the Fulani herdsmen.