Nigeria has ordered the immediate seizure or voluntary return of all personal firearms, a step targeted at mopping up guns ahead of next year’s general election as well as reduce extrajudicial killings in the country.
“All pump-action guns of all categories and other prohibited firearms are to be returned to the police within 21 days. No firearm license will be issued or recognized,” police announced in a statement on Monday.
Officials say this order applies to everyone in the country except serving law enforcement agents licensed to carry firearms.
Various reports have said proliferation of light arms threatens Nigeria’s national security aside being a major enabler of violence, kidnapping, and armed robbery in many parts of the country.
Official figures estimate that out of the 640 million small arms and light weapons circulating across the world, roughly 30 million are in sub-Saharan Africa, with 8 million of them in West Africa, where Nigeria has the lion’s share.
At least 59 percent of these arms are in the hands of civilians, versus just 38 percent owned by government armed forces, 2.8 percent by police, and 0.2 percent by various armed groups.