Over 500 blacksmiths are currently on the watchlist of the North Central Center for Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons for illegal fabrication of firearms for bandits and other criminals in the North Central zone of the country.
This was disclosed by the zonal coordinator of the center, Major General Hamza Bature (retd) during a courtesy visit to the Niger State chapter of Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, in Minna.
Gen Bature explained that some of the blacksmiths were fabricating firearms for bandits and other criminals directly or through third parties thereby increasing the insecurity in the zone.
“Over 500 blacksmiths have been identified in the North Central zone. Some blacksmiths have left their traditional role of fabricating items, and now fabricating guns for bandits and criminals. Some of them know who they are making the weapons for while others fabricate and are bought through third parties.
“We know them because through the center, we have bought firearms directly or through third parties without them knowing we have all their details such as names, phone numbers among others and watching them; some are aware of it and had stopped this illegal business, while others are still on it.”
He disclosed tha those on the center’s watchlist would soon be arrested and if found guilty would be made to face the wrath of the law.
He also called on members of the public in possession of firearms to bring them forward to curtail proliferation of weapons and ensure a safe place for all, especially with the general elections fast approaching.
” We are also calling on members of the public in possession of firearms to bring them to us. The more weapons in the hands of the people the more unsafe we become in the society. We can see what is happening in countries where people are allowed to own firearms . It is no longer a military situation, but requires all relevant stakeholders to stand against the proliferation of weapons; if society turns against a thing, it will go away, “he said.
He further added that the visit to the state NUJ was to solicit the cooperation of the union in educating the society, particularly at the grassroots, on the danger of possession of weapons and its consequences as it pertains to the law.
Responding, the Niger State NUJ chairman, Abu Nmodu pledged the readiness of the union to partner with the center in achieving its objectives