Daily Watch – Senate raises fine for illegal fireams 1000-fold, Zamfara lawmaker killed

1st July 2021

The British High Commission says it is “in the process of seeking clarification” from the federal government regarding the arrest of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). Dean Hurlock, a spokesperson for the British High Commission, disclosed this in a message to journalists on Wednesday. Kanu, who is also a British citizen, was arrested on Sunday and extradited to Nigeria to face trial for alleged treason. Attorney-General of the Federation Abubakar Malami said on Tuesday that the IPOB leader was “intercepted through the collaborative efforts of Nigerian intelligence and security services.” He did not state where the separatist leader was arrested, but media reports suggest that Kanu, who is based in the UK, was lured to an unnamed African country with a promise of cash donations and was arrested. The UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office “stands ready to provide consular assistance”.

A Nigerian politician was killed by bandits while on the road between two northern cities, one of his colleagues said on Wednesday, while a state governor’s convoy came under fire in a separate incident that left three police officers injured. The attacks highlighted a breakdown of law and order across northwestern Nigeria, where armed robberies and kidnappings for ransom have become so frequent that many people are terrified of being on the road. Ahmad Ahmad, a member of the state house of assembly in Zamfara, was killed in a rural area on Tuesday evening as he was driving from the state capital Gusau to Kano. “He was killed by bandits between 9 and 10 p.m.,” said Salihu Shehu, who is also a Zamfara state lawmaker. “I am deeply touched by the news of the killing of my best friend. Early on Wednesday, Kano Governor Abdullahi Ganduje’s convoy came under fire while driving back from Zamfara, according to state information commissioner Muhammad Garba. The governor himself was not in the convoy, but his security detail and other personnel were. “The first two pilot vehicles were the ones attacked,” said Garba, who added that police had repelled the attack and that three officers had sustained minor injuries. The insecurity in northwestern Nigeria is not directly linked to Islamic insurgencies in the northeastern part of the country that the United Nations says have left 350,000 people dead over 12 years. However, the situation in northwestern Nigeria has also reached crisis proportions, with hundreds of children abducted from their schools this year in a wave of mass kidnappings.

The Senate on Wednesday passed the Firearms Act 2004 (Amendment) Bill 2021 raising the fine for illegal importation and sale of firearms from ₦1,000 to ₦1 million. The Bill was presented by the Chairman of the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters. Senator Michael Bamidele. Bamidele held that the fine was initially at ₦1,000 in the extant Act which was not effective enough to curb illegal importation and sale of firearms. According to him, Section 35 of the Bill was amended to impose a fine of ₦3 million or three years jail term or both on anyone who failed to surrender illegal firearms to relevant authorities when directed to do so. He further noted that the Bill had become important due to the rapid increase in the illegal importation of firearms and the security challenges the country is currently facing. “Clause 39 of the Bill, which deals with power to seize and destroy confiscated illegal firearms, was also amended. “This is necessary because the power to seize illegal firearms should not be limited to a particular arm of force or law enforcement agency,’’ he said.

Pro-democracy protesters in Eswatini have defied an overnight curfew to call for constitutional reforms as tensions increase in Africa’s last absolute monarchy. Demonstrations flared on Monday in the tiny and landlocked kingdom previously known as Swaziland, with protesters taking to the streets in the two largest cities of Manzini and Mbabane. The government deployed soldiers to quell the anger and imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on Tuesday from 6 pm to 5 am, citing rising coronavirus cases. Witnesses, however, continued to report unrest during the evening and night, with violent clashes between protesters and police taking place and incidents of looting reported. Lucky Lukhele, the spokesman for the pro-democracy Swaziland Solidarity Network, said “eight activists were shot dead overnight” in Manzini, the country’s administrative capital, according to the AFP news agency. Lukhele said they were among 28 protesters who had been shot, some of whom were taken to hospitals in the early hours of the morning. “We slept with the sound of gunshots and woke still to gunshots fired,” said Mbongwa Dlamini, head of the Swaziland teachers association. “The looting and destruction of property became intense.” A brewery partially owned by King Mswati III was also torched, Dlamini added. With unfettered political power over his 1.3 million people and ruling by decree, the king is Africa’s only absolute monarch and one of the few remaining in the world. Crowned in 1986 when he was just 18, the king has 15 wives and has come under fire for his lavish spending while most inhabitants live below the poverty line.