Ghana: Let's Depoliticise Importation of Arms!

opinion

The pictures of containers with arms at the Tema harbour went viral on social media last week, creating fear and panic about the security implication for the country.

It is refreshing that the Customs officials have cleared the air about the importation of the arms, affirming that it was done under the laws of the country by an accredited agent for a controlled-use and not for any criminal activities.

Clearly, the government imports ammunition from credible sources from abroad for the national armoury, for the defence and security of the country.

Also some individuals and private organisations are licensed to undertake such a venture under secured environment.

We understand that about 640 million of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) are in circulation globally, with about 30 million in circulation within the West African sub-region.

Unfortunately, some of these weapons are in the hands of armed bandits, which they use to foment trouble.

It is estimated that each year, about eight million new arms and between 10 and 15 million rounds of ammunition are manufactured, projecting that there are enough bullets to shoot everyone in the world, not even once, but twice.

Security experts have established that the accumulation and proliferation of weapons across the West African sub-region, is fuelling protracted violent conflicts with high fatalities, violent crimes, non-state terrorist campaigns, violation of human rights, including rape, torture and kidnappings, with dire consequences for the peace and security of the sub-region.

Given this scary situation, Ghanaians have reasons to raise eyebrows about the importation of arms into the country, even if is for good reasons, given that the ammunition could slip into wrong hands.

It is against this background, that the Ghanaian Times considers the political twists to the recent importation of the arms as unnecessary.

Sincerely, such issue of national interest must be handled with circumspection, in order not to generate fear and panic.

Already, Ghana engages in legitimate arms deals, as part of international trading.

Indeed, trade in arms is a lucrative business on the international scene, as evident by the fact that authorised international trade in arms and ammunition exceeds $7.1 billion annually.

What should be the greatest concern of every Ghanaian is the issue of illicit arms trade, in view of the peace and security concerns in the sub-region.

We have porous borders in the sub-region that serve as a safe route for organised criminal gangs to move about illicit arms across our borders.

We all need to ensure effective monitoring and control of firearms, to ensure the rights of the citizenry to safety, public health and human security.

But the government and the opposition parties can give a greater impetus to arms control through the Parliamentary Select Committee on Defence and the Interior.

We must not let politics divide us on matters of peace, security and stability of the country!

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