The discovery of a large cache of arms and the arrest of a 72-year-old national of Burkina Faso for illegal arms trafficking has re-ignited the debate on illicit arms trafficking in West Africa.

The proliferation of small arms in the region has been a matter of concern not only on citizens, but governments of the sub-region.

The concern stem from the fact that some countries in the sub-region have been plaqued by violence, leading to proliferation of small arms, and this is threatening to destabilise the entire region.

The arms found at Alabar, a Kumasi suburb is therefore, very frightening, and we are disturbed that the base has been turned into a market for selling such sophisticated weapons to individuals and armed robbers in West African countries.

Astonishingly, the brain behind this illicit trafficking is a national of a neighbouring country, which confirms the position of arms control experts that, illicit arms trafficking is widespread in the sub-region.

The type of arms confiscated from the traffickers exposes the danger we are all living with.

The sale of automatic firearms AK 47, G-3 weapons and other heavy weapons means the danger is real and must be tackled through a multi-national effort.

It is, a fact that West African countries are battling the problem under the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms, but that is not yielding the desired results.

No one needs to be told the consequences of the proliferation of illicit arms in a sub-region that is grappling with conflicts, armed robbery and border control problems.

As a matter of fact, the motivation for the arms smuggling is the availability of buyers who use them for different purposes including source of livelihood for those who indulge in it.

Regrettably, in spite of the efforts being made by the individual countries to control the illicit trade in arms, the situation is rather turning complex and sophisticated.

There is the need, therefore, for the problem to be seen as a collective security threat for the entire sub-region.

West African countries need the political will, internal organisation and international cooperation for a realistic action to combat illicit arm trafficking.

The Times supports the view that greater regional integration of legislations and international mechanisms would be the best way to combat and counter illicit arms flow and cross-border trade in illicit arms.

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