THE House of Representatives on Thursday condemned the alleged illegal importation of military hard wares into the country by the Kogi State government and resolved to probe both the State Government and the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, over the incident.
The Reps said Nigeria Customs Service is to explain why it demanded the importer to go and procure End-User Certificate from the National Security Adviser instead of arresting the importer of the consignment when it knew that the importer was not constitutionally empowered to procure arms under any guise.
The House mandated its standing Committees on Customs, National Security and Public Safety to carry out a full-scale investigation into the matter with a view to unravelling the mystery behind the illegal importation and prevent future occurrence.
The resolution of the House followed the adoption of a motion of Urgent National importance sponsored by Honourable Karimi Sunday at the plenary yesterday titled, “Urgent need to check the importation of firearms and Military equipment into the country by politicians and private citizens”.
While moving the motion, Hon Karim recalled that items 2,17, 38, 45,67 and 68 of the Second Schedule, Part 1 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended ) (Exclusive legislative List) “prescribes that arms, ammunitions and explosives, defence, military and others under Exclusive Legislative list are matters within the exclusive preserve of the Federal Government and no state government however buoyant or influential has the power to procure arms, equipment, uniforms etc for the military nor has the power to delve into any matter within the Exclusive Legislative List”.
The lawmaker lamented that only recently, “there are strong indications that the government of Kogi State imported 100 pieces of military camouflage, 26 pieces of military camouflage jungle boots, 20 pieces of plastic knives, 24 pieces of black bulletproof vests, 28 black boxing gloves, 26 pieces of arctic hunter bags, 40pieces of training mats, 20 pieces of black batons 100 pieces of black T-shirts, 31 pieces of protective glosses, 25 pieces of black sunglasses and 29 pieces of black uniform among others.”
He stated that though the Special Adviser to the State Governor on Security Matters, Jerry Omodara was reported to have gone to the Nigeria Customs Service upon the interception of the illegally imported items and told them that the items belonged to the Kogi State Government upon which the Customs officials who supposed to have arrested him for illegal importation of Military hard wares asked him to go and produce End-User Certificate from the National Security Adviser.
He expressed concern that “there have been reported cases of assassination and threat to the lives of politicians and public officials who have express divergent political views from that of the governor, this includes the attempt on the life of Senator Dino Melaye, the violent disruption of the empowerment programme of Senator Ogembe and the murder in cold blood of the late Labour leader in Okene who criticized the state governor vehemently for non-payment of workers’ salaries”.
He pointed out that the state government was owing several months salary and recently commenced payment of quarterly salary as opposed to monthly salary known to Nigerian Labor and Employment laws but yet the same government was spending the meagre resources of the state on the importation of military hardware which was of no benefit to the people of the state
Hon Karimi while moving for a thorough probe into the mater declared that if the dangerous trend was allowed to continue and politicians, state Governors and private Citizens were allowed to import arms under the guise of equipping the Military, the security and life of the innocent Nigerians would be jeopardized.
All the members who contributed in support of the motion including. Ossai Nicholas Ossai, Olufemi Adebayo and Nnena Elendu-Ukeje among others condemned the illegal importation of the military hard wares and called for a decisive action by the parliament in order to check proliferation and influx of firearms into the country as the 2019 general elections draw nearer.
According to Hon Nnena Elndu- Ukeje,” something concrete must be done on this matter at once, we are tired of coming here every now and then to be debating proliferation of arms, now someone is importing military hard wares into the country under the guise of state government where we are having cases of state-sponsored militia groups, terrorists, assassination attempts.
“We can not continue to sit in the comfort of this hallowed chamber or some people sitting in the comfort of the Aso Rock and be debating the issue of illegal firearms without finding a lasting solution to the menace which definitely will explode one day if the trend be allowed to continue unchecked, the lives of Kogi people are in serious danger, we must act fast as lawmakers.” He said.
When the motion was put to a voice vote presided over by the Speaker, Honourable Yakubu Dogara, it was unanimously adopted.