On Tuesday, the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) attributed the security challenges in Nigeria’s South-Eastern zone to the smuggling of illicit small arms and light weapons.
The Director General of the institute, Dr Joseph Ochogwu disclosed this in Abuja during a Policy Roundtable on the Security Challenges prevalent in the South East Geo-Political Zone of the country.
Small arms refer to kinetic projectile firearms such as handguns, revolvers, pistols, derringers, and machine pistols, while light weapons are infantry-portable weapons that are either crew-served kinetic firearms, incendiary devices, or shoot explosive munitions.
He affirmed that, the South-East zone comprising Abia, Enugu, Anambra, Ebonyi, and Imo has in recent times been plagued by violent extremism as occasioned by the violent activities of the militant wing of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), gunmen, and other clandestine groups.
“A major accentuating element fueling insecurity in the South-east zone and the country in general has been the ready availability of illicit Small Arms and Lights Weapons (SALWs).
“It is instructive to note from studies that the intractable state of insecurity has enabled local actors with the capacity to fabricate and locally produce firearms.
“A large percentage of these arms in circulation are also trafficked into the country from across the Sahel region.
“Also as the forces of climate change continue to force people to migrate to new habitats in search of alternative livelihoods, illicit arms have continued to be trafficked, further militarizing our communities.
“In addition to the proliferation of small arms and light weapons and associated threats, the zone is confronting the problem of widespread drug abuse.
“The proliferation of illicit drugs has not only sustained the tendencies for violence but has weakened the capability and capacity of young people to critically engage the messaging of some of these violent extremist groups, especially against the State.
“Indeed, a significant percentage of the youths have swallowed the extremist messages hook line, and sinker due to the influence of drugs,” he said.