Commission on Small Arms destroys 1,500 weapons

The Ghana National Commission on Small Arms on Friday destroyed 1,500 pieces of locally produced fire arms seized from people who possessed them illegally in various parts of the country.

The seizure was as a result of a six weeks joint exercise organised by the Commission and the security agencies as part of efforts to rid the country of illicit firearms and ammunitions.

This brings to 3,387 the number of illicit small arms destroyed by the Commission in the country since 2001.

The destruction exercise, which was organised by the Commission in collaboration with the Ashanti Regional Co-ordinating Council and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), was also used to educate the public on firearms and the dangers involved in the acquisition and circulation of illicit small arms in the country.

“The Impact of Small Arms Abuse on National Development,” was the theme for the programme that was attended by members of the security agencies, chiefs, businessmen and women, the clergy, the media and heads of departments.

Mr Kofi Opoku-Manu, Ashanti Regional Minister, said the government was determined to fight the proliferation of illicit small arms as demonstrated by its ratification of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons.

He said the government had also gone further in this regard to make possession of illegal arms in Ghana no longer a misdemeanour but a first degree felony punishable by conviction to 25 years imprisonment.

The minister said the exercise was aimed at ensuring that the country stayed peaceful, safer and more secured to make Ghana attractive to foreign and local investors to help provide employment for the people.

Mr Opoku-Manu said the proliferation of small arms in the country was a major challenge to the nation’s development and the government was doing everything possible to ensure absolute control and monitoring of the use of arms.

“The issue of local manufacturing of guns has been a source of worry to the government because according to the police, over 80 per cent of crimes in the country are committed using locally produced guns,” the Minister said.

Lieutenant Col. Seth Ohene-Asare  (Rtd), Chairman of Commission said the commission was determined to support the government to bring circulation of illegal arms under control and advised that people who had legal arms used them responsibly.

Baffour Dokyi Amoah, President of the West Africa Action Network on Small Arms, indicated that illicit small arms destroyed lives and retarded development.

Source: GNA

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