The Senate on Wednesday passed the Firearms Act 2004 (Amendment) Bill 2021 raising the fine for illegal importation and sale of firearms from N1,000 to N1 million.
The Bill was passed after it considered the report of its Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.
Presenting the report, Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Michael Bamidele, said “the fine was pegged at N1,000 in the extant Act which was not punitive enough to deter illegal importation and sale of firearms.’’
Section 35 of the Bill was also amended to impose a fine of N3 million or imprisonment for three years or both on anyone who failed to surrender illegal firearms to relevant authorities whenever so directed.
“Clause 39 of the Bill, which deals with power to seize and destroy confiscated 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,’’ Bamidele said.
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 Civilian Joint Task Forces and registered vigilance groups.
This has to be done with the approval and supervision of the Office of the National Security Adviser, however. “This is important because these joint task forces are also funded by the government,’’ Bamidele stressed.
He noted that the Bill had become imperative in view of the proliferation of firearms and the security challenges the country was faced with.