Group seeks N/A approval for ECOWAS-backed Commission to check small arms, other illicit imports

Chief Emmanuel Okereke(middle) briefing Newsmen on Monday
 in Lagos on proposed Commission 

The Importers Association of Nigeria (IMAN) has called on the National Assembly to sign into Law a Bill for a Commission aimed at checking illicit imports including small arms and light weapons that could jeorpadise the nation’s  peace and security.
Chief Emmanuel Okereke, The President of IMAN and the Director General of the National Taskforce, told newsmen on Monday in Lagos that fourteen out of the sixteen countries making up the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) already had the Commission operational.

He disclosed that only Nigeria and The Gambia were yet to have the commission working in their countries, for the fact that the treaty was signed in Nigeria in 2009.
“So, we want the National Assembly to approve this Commission, because this Commission has a lot to offer. This commission is in existence in 14 countries out of the 16 in ECOWAS.

“The treaty was signed in Nigeria in 2009, and now, Nigeria as Chairman of ECOWAS, has been given ultimatum to Nigeria to sign this Bill, because only Nigeria and the Gambia have yet signed the Bill into Law.

“We have called on the National Assembly, on Bukola Saraki to sign the Bill before his exit from office and we know it will be a big credit to him,” Okereke said. 

He said that the proposed “National Commission For Prohibited Imported Items, Small Arms, Light Weapons And Other Related Offences” would ensure such dangerous weapons don’t find their way easily into the country to endanger lives in Nigeria.

He clarified that the Bill on the National Taskforce, which was sponsored by IMAN had suffered about seven years at the National Assembly due to conflicting interests by people who were likely into illegal businesses.

Okereke also warned that “There is nothing like IMAN National Taskforce in Nigeria. Rather, IMAN initiated the National Taskforce which was accepted by the government and was inaugurated. Those who called themselves IMAN Special Taskforce are criminals. So, people should be aware.”

He gave assurance that the National Taskforce, which “was inaugurated in 2010 with the Minister of Finance and National Security Adviser” would only carryout its mandate of checking prohibited imports and not delve into sealing of people’s warehouses.

Speaking on the security situation of the country, Okereke said the proposed commission would train and employ no fewer than 350 indigenous in all localities across Nigeria to secure their areas, maintain peace and order and be able to identify security threats and call on the Police for appropriate action.

He said that such strategy would eliminate or greatly reduce militia attacks from groups like Boko Haram and kidnappers, who have access to assault weapons, because “there were proliferation of illicit items including fake military uniforms” prior to the elections.

All importers would be duly registered with the commission for proper identification of genuine importers, Okereke added.