By Innocent Anaba
ENUGU—A South East based civil society group, International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law, Intersociety, has disputed the report by Director of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa, UNREC, Ms Olatokunbo Ige that there are 350 million illicit small arms and light weapons in circulation in wrong hands in Nigeria.
Nigerian born Ige, it will be recalled had last week, made the revelation at the National Consultation on Physical Security and Stockpile Management, PSSM, in Abuja, organised by Agency and Presidential Committee on Small Arms and Light Weapons, PRESCOM, in Abuja, in which she noted that out of 500 million illicit weapons in circulation in West Africa, about 70 per cent (350m) were in Nigeria.
Intersociety in a statement by its chairman, Mr Emeka Umeagbalasi, weekend, said: “We are deeply worried because the name of United Nations is involved, which explains our promptness in disputing and dismissing the bogus and highly inflated figure. It is no longer news that the Nigerian Intellectual Community has decayed steadily in recent times following gross bastardization witnessed in the country’s cultural and political values, courtesy of Nigeria’s political class.
“The bogus claim of the UN official is totally dead on arrival and may most likely be difficult to provide grounded answers to the following questions, which are: (a) if 350 million illicit small arms and light weapons are in circulation and in wrong hands in Nigeria, what is the total population of Nigeria presently? (b) Does it mean that with credibly estimated population of 174 million people in Nigeria, illicit small arms and light weapons to the tune of 350 million are two times higher the than country’s population of 174 million people?
“Does it also mean that out of every child born recently in the country; every teenager, youth and adult including male and female and even President Muhammadu Buhari, there are two illicit small arms and light weapons in possession of each of them? (d) If 500 million illicit small arms and light weapons are in circulation in West Africa, of which Nigeria accounts for 350 million or 70 percent, what then is the total population of the West African sub-region? (e) If 500 million illicit small arms and light weapons are in circulation and in wrong hands in West Africa alone, what then is the total number of illicit small arms and light weapons in circulation around the world?”
“We challenge Ms Olatokumbo Ige to rubbish us publicly by providing empirical and statistically grounded answers to the foregoing. It is also correct to say that the Nigerian-born UN official is an acute victim of arm-chair syndrome and a product of networking-cabalism that characterizes sensitive inter-governmental and governmental appointments in recent times locally and regionally, producing unqualified, illiterately educated and dormant and dull brains to run strategic UN bodies such as UNREC.
“In view of the foregoing, therefore, Ms Ige must as a matter of uttermost immediacy and local, regional and international importance, retract her grossly misleading and misinforming statistics and tender an unreserved apology to all Nigerians, the UN and the entire global community. We also advise her to upgrade herself at all times both academically and informally; likewise members of PRESCOM,” he added.