From Judex Okoro, Calabar

Security expert and Executive Director of LITE AFRICA Hon Joel Bisina has stated that the influx of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) into the country have contributed immensely to the security crisis in Nigeria.

Speaking at the training of security personnel on border security and management, organised recently in Calabar by Leadership Initiative for Transformation and Empowerment (LITE-Africa), with support from EU and ECOWAS Commission, Bisina said it has become imperative to take urgent steps to protect Nigerian borders in order to control the inflow of illicit weapons.

According to Bisina, who doubles as the facilitator of the training, the wide availability, stockpile and illicit flows of such weapons tend to escalate conflicts, undermine peace agreements, intensify violence and impact on crime, thereby impeding economic and social development just ad it has a negative impact on democracy and good governance.

The security expert explained that the training was part of an integrated project designed by LITE AFRICA, a Warri-based NGO, to support the mandate of ECOWAS in addressing the peace and security challenges in the West African sub-region.

He said the project, SALW Action, employs a mix of strategies including capacity building, sensitisation, disarmament and creation of alternative and inclusive socio-economic pathways.

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He added that the training is designed to equip the security operatives with modern methods and strategies of border management (Air, Land & Sea) as well as strategies of collaborative policing, intelligence/information gathering and sharing.

The training, he further noted, which is mainly a ‘pilot community weapons collection programme,’ is an initiative of the ECOWAS Commission, funded by the European Union under the “EU support to ECOWAS Peace, Security and Stability Mandate (ECOWAS-EU PSS Programme)” within the broader context of “Disarmament and Community Development” or ‘Weapons for Development”.

He listed the seven countries involved in this pilot phase to include Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Niger and Mali.

The training was the second leg of capacity building training on border management and security targeted at security and law enforcement agencies in Nigeria.

The first stream was held earlier in the six geo-political zones of Nigeria between September and November 2020.