Senator Ned Nwoko, a member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) representing Delta North senatorial district, has revealed why he sponsored a bill proposing increased firearm ownership among Nigerians.
The senator cited the inadequacy of police resources and the need for citizens to protect themselves in the face of rising lawlessness as a reason for the bill.
In an interview with ARISE NEWS on Thursday, Senator Nwoko expressed concern over the current state of insecurity in the country and emphasized that the police force lacks adequate funding and workforce to meet its constitutional mandate of protecting lives and properties.
He contends that the proposed bill, titled “Self-defense and Firearms Ownership Regulation,” is a response to the desperation felt by many Nigerians who find themselves without sufficient protection.
His words: “My bill is predicated on the lawlessness that is currently pervading the nation. We all have experienced it, or we know someone who has experienced it.
“We have come to a point in this nation where we have to make an honest admission to ourselves, which is that the security agents cannot really protect lives and properties as stated in the constitution.
“The common man is left to his fate. He does not get any kind of support from the police, and the police force is unequipped, ill-funded, and not capable of discharging those onerous duties, and that is the fact.
“I am in the senate committee on police matters, and I can tell you that we do not have the number of policemen that we need to secure Nigeria as a country.
“The military, on the other hand, has been spending billions of Naira over the years, buying warplanes, different arms and ammunition in the name of fighting terrorism and other crimes. But they are also not able to deal with the issues, and a lot of money has been spent and lives lost, and we are nowhere near finding solutions.
“The idea of a bill to enable Nigerians to carry arms to defend themselves is born out of desperation, the fact that people do not have the kind of protection that they need.
“In Nigeria, what stops us from having an emergency number and this is one of those things that we just need to address. How do you help the ordinary Nigerians to reach out to the security forces or emergency services in the event of trouble?”
The Delta North senator also outlined strategic measures that would ensure the smooth running of the bill if approved.
He said: “It’s not just about people carrying arms. There are measures that are proposed, and they are very strict measures. What I am trying to do is to have a system where people who are willing to carry arms are given the opportunity to do so.
“The first condition that must be met is that every local government must have a gun shooting school, and if you want to have a gun and a license, the first thing is to be trained on the use of arms. These shooting schools will be run by former military officers and owned by them.
“When you have gone through the process and you are able to use the arms, the next step is to go to your king or your Emir or Oba, who will give you a letter of certification to confirm that you are from that particular place. Then, the next thing to do is to go to two doctors who will certify that you are mentally fit to bear arms.
“Next is your local government chairman, who will also confirm that you are from that place, and then you go to the DPO of that locality, who will also confirm that you don’t have any criminal record.
“Majority of Nigerians are responsible. If you own a gun and the would-be attackers know that, the possibility of them coming to attack you or rape in your house is almost Nil. There are many vigilantes and security companies in Nigeria who are not even allowed to carry arms.”
Nwoko had, earlier in January, proposed a bill for Nigerians to carry firearms to check the threat of violence and insecurity in the country.