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General News of Monday, 11 July 2016

Source: Class FM

Land guards, Fulanis, galamsey to blame for illegal weapons – Irbard

The activities of Fulani herdsmen, land guards and illegal small-scale miners (galamsey), as well as lack of confidence in the security agencies in Ghana, are to blame for the alarming proliferation of illegal arms in Ghana, Irbard Ibrahim, a security analyst has said.

On Saturday July 9, the National Small Arms Commission (NSAC) destroyed 1,300 illegal guns in the country, but warned that there were still more than 1.1 million of such firearms and light weapons that might be in wrong hands.

The guns, which were marked and broken before being set on fire, included locally made single- and double-barrelled shotguns, locally made and imported pistols, pump action guns and local mortars.

The number of illegal firearms in wrong hands means that for Ghana’s 27 million people, the ratio of illegal arms to the population is 1:25. It is estimated that there are 2.3 million weapons in civilian hands in Ghana, with only 1.2 million of that number having been registered.

The guns were destroyed as part of activities to mark the UN International Day for the destruction of weapons in Accra.

Speaking in an interview with Prince Minkah, host of the Executive Breakfast Show (EBS) on Class91.3FM on Monday July 11, Mr Ibrahim said: “Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania, to some extent Rwanda, if such countries that have experienced conflicts have citizens that are taking their personal security into their hands that will be understandable, but as a nation, we have never experienced a civil war. That aura of instability that is prevalent elsewhere is not in Ghana, and, so, it is quite baffling that people in such resounding numbers will want to arm themselves”.

“There are a few things you could attribute this to: the land guard system has not been too helpful. When people do savings and buy parcels of land on the fringes of major cities like Accra, to build, they are terrorised, and, so, some of them will want to possess guns, foremen will want to hold guns as labourers work on parcel of lands. The galamsey system has not been helpful because Chinese people, at some point, were killing Ghanaians…, therefore, Chiefs have to possess fire arms and then push them to third owners. And again, the issue of people not having enough confidence in our security agencies come to the fore. We live in a country whose defence budget is nothing to write home about. In every intersection, elsewhere, there are surveillance cameras that give people solace that the taxpayers’ money is put to good use and to protect them, but we don’t have that confidence in our security agencies, and, therefore, people will want to arm themselves. The Fulani herdsmen menace has also given people the impetus to possess arms to protect themselves”, Sheikh Ibrahim explained.

The peace ambassador for the 2016 elections noted: “These …reasons will not be enough justification for the quantum of weapons we have in the system. If you have over a thousand guns concentrated in an area and 2.3 million across board, then that tells you if care is not taken, someone could be stockpiling to cause conflict, and, so, there is no justification. So, I believe our security agencies, coupled with other constitutionally-mandated bodies like the National Commission on Small Arms, should be given the needed commendation on this one, and to up their ante, so that we will de-proliferate the system of some of these illegal weapons.”

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