Lagos- Nigeria (PANA) -- Nigeria has taken a major step toward complying with the ECOWAS' Small Arms Moratorium by setting up a national committee to oversee its implementation in the country.
Inaugurating the committee in Abuja Monday, President Olusegun Obasanjo said it was a manifestation of the country's commitment to ensuring adequate security within the West African sub-region.
He charged the committee, comprising representatives of the Ministries of Defence, Internal Affairs and Co-operation and Integration in Africa, to enhance weapons control at border posts, establish small and light weapons register/data, facilitate dialogue with producers/suppliers and destroy illegal weapons.
Representatives of the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON), Nigeria Police Force, the State Security Service, National Intelligence Agency and the Nigeria Customs are also on the committee.
The Moratorium, signed by leaders of the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States, 31 October 1998, is aimed at checking the proliferation of small arms in the sub-region and stemming conflicts that impede economic and political development.
Under its Code of Conduct, which stipulates actions to be taken by Member States to implement the Moratorium, the establishment of National Commissions is a pre-requisite to its actualisation.
Ghana and Mali are among countries, which have also set up their own National Commissions under the agreement, now almost two years into its initial three-year period.
Technical assistance to support the implementation of the Moratorium is being provided through the UNDP's Programme for Co-ordination and Assistance for Security and Development (PCASED), based in Bamako, Mali.
About half of all illicit arms in Africa, blamed for the growing number of conflicts in the continent, are said to be held in the West Africa sub-region.
ECOWAS Executive Secretary Lansana Kouyate described the Moratorium as a "unique and bold initiative.
to create a framework within which a secure environment for socio-economic development can be obtained.