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ECOWAS must fight illicit small arms — Dr. Adamu

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Mr. Jones Borteye Applerh (4th from left), Executive Secretary, NCSALW; Dr. Sani Adamu (3rd from left), Programmes Officer, Disarmament and Arms Control, ECOWAS, with some dignitaries. Picture: Maxwell Ocloo

The Programmes Officer of the Disarmament and Arms Control of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, Dr. Sani Adamu, has urged the sub regional body to effectively fight the war against illicit flow and proliferation of small arms and light weapons (SALW).
He said member states were the driving force to end the proliferation of SALW in the region.

Opening a three-day regional training of national focal persons on the ECOWAS Convention on SALW in Accra yesterday, Dr. Adamu said member states must demonstrate a national ownership for strategic plans and exemption procedures on SALW adopted for implementation within the subregion.

“If member states do not demonstrate national ownership, we will keep coming back fighting this SALW endlessly,” Dr. Adamu said.

Event

The ECOWAS capacity-building workshop is the latest in a series of capacity-building programmes to be organised for leaders of armed services in the region.

In attendance are heads of Armed and Defence services within the various member states.

Among the key issues to be discussed are regional institution for arms control management and administration and the key principles of arms transfer within the ECOWAS subregion.

Dr. Adamu explained that the capacity-building training was geared towards deepening the understanding of the security apparatus of the ECOWAS exemption process.

He added that the objective of the training was to update participants at the regional level on efforts at transitioning from manual-based record-keeping systems to an automated process of keeping arms.

He observed that the long and porous borders on land and in the sea, among several other factors, accounted for the proliferation of arms within the region, adding that the lack of capacity among security personnel and the easy movement of goods across borders were some of the issues that continued to make the subregion vulnerable.

Dr. Adamu noted that one of the issues that needed to be confronted was the substantial presence of artisanal producers of firearms in ECOWAS states.

He, therefore, called for an effective national strategic plan within states to address the challenges.

Peace

For his part, the Executive Secretary of the National Commission on SALW, Mr. Jones Borteye Applerh, said at the centre of all the efforts being pursued by ECOWAS was the desire to ensure that the borders were secure, the promotion of peace and to bring about speedy development within the region.

He underscored the need for member states to mark their weapons in order to facilitate easy tracing in times of robbery.

The marking of weapons, he said, would also help determine obsolete and surplus weapons.

Mr. Applerh urged ECOWAS member states to desist from unnecessary arms race and maximisation of the acquisition of weapons.

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