Senate amends Firearms Act, illegal arms importer risks N1m fine

The Senate, on Wednesday, passed the Firearms Act 2004 (Amendment) Bill 2021.

The red chamber increased the fine for illegal importation and sales of firearms to N1m.

The fine was initially N1,000 in the extant Act.

The Senate passed the bill after it considered the report of its committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.

Section 35 of the bill was also amended to increase the fine to N3m or three years’ imprisonment or both for anyone who fails to surrender illegal firearms to the relevant authorities during a proclamation for such.

The Chairman of the committee, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, said the N1,000 fine contained in the extant Act was not punitive enough to deter illegal importation and sales of firearms in Nigeria.

He said, “Clause 39 of the bill, which deals with power to seize and destroy confiscated and illegal firearms, was amended to provide for inclusion of other law enforcement agencies besides the police and the military.

“This is necessary because the power to confiscate or seize illegal firearms should be all-inclusive and not limited to a particular arm of force or law enforcement agency.”

The bill also amended sub-clauses (4) and (5) of clause 39 to allow firearms that are not of military serviceable grades, but are serviceable, to be deployed for use by the civilian joint task force and other registered vigilantes, under the approval and supervision of the office of the national security adviser.

The senator said the bill became imperative in view of the proliferation of firearms, coupled with the security challenges facing the country. Copyright PUNCH.

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