The National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons (NACSA) has reiterated that possession of firearms in the country without a license is illegal and punishable under the law.
“Therefore, members of the general public interested in possessing firearms must use appropriate channels to acquire them, otherwise the law will deal with you, when you are caught,” Reverend Professor Paul Yaw Frimpong-Manso, Chairman of the Commission, has said.
He was speaking at the first Greater Accra East Regional Council Meeting of the Assemblies of God Church at Shai Hills on Wednesday.
For example, Rev. Prof Frimpong-Manso said, for one to legally acquire and possess small arms, “the person must be 18 of years and above, and of sound mind; have a justifiable reason to possess small arm; be physically fit to handle the weapon; a safe and secured place to keep it; and must as well have the requisite resources to keep it.”
He said records from the Small Arms and Light Weapons Commission show that about 1.6 million small arms were illegally sold out annually, but only 40,000 were registered, leaving the remaining 1.560 million as illicit weapons in the possession of people in the country.
Rev. Prof Frimpong-Manso noted that illicit weapons that were in the hands of armed robbers, illegal miners, ‘land guards’ and political vigilantes posed a threat to the socio-economic development and peace of the nation.
“In a country awash with illicit and unregistered small arms, their continued proliferation exacerbates conflicts, violates the rule of law and spawns a culture of violence and impunity,” he said.
Rev. Prof Frimpong-Manso said the proliferation of illicit small arms had fuelled conflicts and derailed the economic stability of some nations in West Africa and had impacted negatively on the safety, security and the human rights of thousands of people.
He said the Commission was coordinating the implementation of small arms and light weapons control programmes such as the programme of action by the United Nations (UN) to prevent the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, the International Tracing Systems, Arms Trade Treaty, the UN Firearms Protocol, among others, to regulate the circulation of small weapons.
Rev. Dr Joseph K. K. Baisie, Greater Accra Regional Superintendent of the Church, bemoaned the spate of vigilantism and violence in our democratic dispensation and urged all Ghanaians to “treat and reject it with all the contempt it deserved.”
Citing the unfortunate incidents at the recent Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election, and the shooting at the Ashanti Regional Office of the National Democratic Congress, he said the country’s hard earned democratic credentials were being undermined, therefore, the urgent call to nib in the bud activities of the vigilante groups.
He lamented that the culprits and perpetrators of such acts had always been spared the brunt of the law because people in authority had inadvertently shielded them from prosecution making it difficult for such acts to be discouraged.
The meeting which was on the theme, “Bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit”, offered participants the opportunity to deliberate and pray on pertinent national issues affecting the citizenry.
FROM KEN AFEDZI, SHAI HILLS