Illegal arm owners risk N500m fine as Reps push for stiffer penalties

THE House of Representatives will on resumption from its two-month annual recess commence debate on a bill which seeks to impose stiffer penalties on unlawful possession of firearms in the country.

According to an explanatory memorandum, the “Bill seeks to review and increase the penalty for contravention of the offence of unlawful possession of and dealing in firearms and ammunition, including muzzle-loading firearms.

“This punitive measure will to an extent assist in the administration of criminal justice system in Nigeria.”

To achieve this, Honourable Ossai Nicholas Ossai, who is the sponsor of the bill, seeks to call for the amendment of the Firearms Act, Cap F28, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2014 with the view to increasing some penalties for contravention of the Act and for related matters.

This is coming on the heel of reports of loss of firearms from officials of various security agencies including the police.

As stipulated in the proposed bill, Ossai will call for the amendment of last paragraph of Section 27(1) to be amended “by deleting the words “of one thousand” after the word “fine” and substitute same with the words, not exceeding N500 million.

“By deleting the word, ‘of two’ after the word ‘term’ and substitute same with the words, not exceeding five.”

In a related development, the House is also expected to commence debate on a bill which seeks to prohibit possession of weapons intended to be used for unlawful purposes and for related matters.

According to another explanatory memorandum of the bill, which has been slated for Second Reading, the Bill as sponsored by Honourable Ossai “seeks to nip in the bud some of the causes of criminality in our society by preventing the unlawful use of dangerous weapons.”

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