The Senate, on Wednesday, passed the Firearms Act 2004 (Amendment) Bill 2021, increasing the fine for illegal importation and sales of firearms to N1 million.
The fine was pegged at one thousand naira in the extant Act.
The bill was passed after the Red Chamber considered the report of the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.
Section 35 of the bill was also amended to increase the fine to 3 million or imprisonment for 3 years or both for anyone who fails to surrender illegal firearms to the relevant authorities during a proclamation for such.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele, said the N1,000 fine contained in the extant Act was not punitive enough to deter illegal importation and sales of firearms in Nigeria.
Clause 39 of the bill, which deals with the power to seize and destroy confiscated and illegal firearms, was amended to provide for the 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,” he 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 Force and other Registered Vigilantes, under the approval and supervision of the Office of the National Security Adviser.
This is important because these joint efforts are also funded by the government, the lawmaker added.
He said the bill has become imperative in view of the proliferation of firearms, coupled with the security challenges facing the country.
The lawmaker said the fine in the extant Act was not commensurate with the gravity of the offence, hence the upward review of the fine in the bill.
This, he added, would serve as a deterrent and strengthen the current efforts geared towards the control of illicit and illegal firearms influx into the country and in the possession of individuals.