1.1 Background to the Study
Technical know-how for construction of weapons, either by means of handcrafting or through industrial production, is the most significant cause of massive availability and proliferation of small arms and light weapons (SALW) in the world. The latter inversely correlates with internal security (IS) of most countries. As weapons technologies (WTs) increase in sophistication and circulation, so do the production and circulation of SALW and their ammunitions to and fro “legitimate” and “illegitimate” handlers. Thus, development, improvement, dispersal, and use of WTs have remained double-edged swords: The resultant weapons often simultaneously provide security and insecurity, across human societies. As weapons are used to protect lives and properties, and to ensure safe environments for people to live and function in, so are they sometimes used to destabilize the society, making it unsafe for human habitation and functionality. The people in possession of WTs and their products at any time often strongly determine the roles that WTs and weapons play in the society: While “legitimate” possessors may use them to protect the society and its elements, “illegitimate” possessors often use them to cause havoc in the society (Okafor, Okeke & Aniche, 2012; Chuma-Okoro, 2011).
Since the earliest incidence of WTs and crafting in human societies, weapons (especially SALW) have often been handled by “legitimate” and “illegitimate” users. All efforts made by state authorities to regulate possession and use of WTs and weapons have often been tangibly undermined. In some societies, circulation of WTs and weapons has been very minimal while in many others, it has been very severe (Edeko, 2011; Small Arms Survey, 2007). With only a few countries (including but not limited to Britain, China, and France) being able to reasonably control indiscriminate circulation of WTs and weapons, only the said few have been able to achieve relative IS and peace that is reasonable; such countries mainly include the developed countries of the world. The developing countries like most of the Asian and African countries often face lots of violent internal conflicts and crises emanating from inadequate regulation of WTs and weapons (Edeko, 2011; Abdel-Fatau, 2004).
In this era of highly globalised world, the Internet and the associated social media have often been used to circumvent the regulation of WTs more than ever before. Massive transmission of information through the Internet and the social media have unduly enhanced circulation of WTs thereby preventing them from being exclusive preserves of the military industry and government security agencies. With the Internet, any technical enthusiast can now easily access blueprints of weapons building or related resource documents. In addition to that, interested person(s) can receive technical supports from many online sources. With these factors in place, local craftsmen now have the opportunity of improving on their skills of craft-production of weapons. Also, opportunities now exist for them to try out newer methods of fabrication of their regular and ‘newer’ weapons. Consequently, interested craftsmen everywhere in the world have either learnt, or developed their already acquired, art of weapons fabrication and have been producing SALW for various reasons and purposes (Onuoha, 2006 cited in Edeko, 2011). This situation has progressively contributed to geometric rise in IS challenges, which have often been underreported, for many countries (Small Arms Survey, 2007).
The types of weapons most frequently used to destabilize IS of many societies are not those originally known as weapons of mass destruction – nuclear and atomic bombs, biological and chemical weapons. Rather the most destructive weapons since the demise of the Cold War have been the SALW. This is because of the relative ease with which they can be produced, moved or carried, proliferated, and operated (Nte, 2011; Obuoforibo, 2010; UN Document A/52/228, 27 August, 1997). Proliferations of these weapons sourced through trade, local crafting, reverse engineering, theft, renting, and all sorts of illegal supplies, have been on the rise. The rapid and unwanted circulation of SALW has reached alarming rates in many Third World countries, especially since the end of the Cold War. Thus, there have been rising cases of internal insecurity in the developing parts of the world since the collapse of the Soviet Union (1989 to 1991). The countries worst hit by the said phenomena have been the badly divided societies which are faulted along ethnic, religious, economic, and political cleavages like Nigeria.
In spite of the fact that SALW do not necessarily cause conflicts, their massive availability promotes fresh engagement in and or sustenance of existing violent contentions. They have been the tools for executing various kinds of violent crimes – armed robbery, political assassination, kidnapping or abduction, prison violation, petroleum pipeline vandalism, oil theft (bunkering), and intimidation of all kinds. They have also served well in intergroup clashes like intra- and inter- ethnic conflicts in which violence is perceived to be necessary for successful intimidation and defeat of opponents (Religions for Peace, African Council of Religious Leaders, 2010).
All of the above IS challenges have been experienced and are still on-going in contemporary Nigeria. In Nigeria, especially since the end of military rule in 1999, there has been increasing rates of weapons-related violence with attendant speculation of high rising circulation of SALW within the country. These occurrences have been attributed to many factors like opportunistic venting of bottled-up vexations of the military era by various groups in Nigeria (Egbefo & Salihu, 2014; Albert, 2012), corruption of government officials (Orikpe, 2013; Adebakin and Raimi, 2012), and use of extreme violence by the government to quell internal crises (Adekunle, 2013; Babatunde; 2010; Omotola, 2010). Other alleged causes include selfish attitudes of national politicians (Adebakin and Raimi, 2012; Kasali, 2011; Hazen & Horner, 2007); poor handling of sensitive conflict phenomena (Azinge, 2013; Thom-Otuya, 2009); fear and the need for personal and group security within the citizenry (Hazen and Horner; 2007); and ethnic, religious, and political intolerances (Dode, 2012; Sen, 1999). Whatever the causes may have been, the incidence of the various forms of violent acts in Nigeria has been rising from strength to strength and from simplistic occurrences to very complex forms. So, lives and property have been unprotected with stability unguaranteed in the country. Internal security of Nigeria has been so threatened that the apparatuses of the state currently seem to be incapable of providing public safety for Nigeria and its citizenry.
As a corollary to the foregoing, then, one aspect of the national interests in which the Nigerian State has often failed to achieve its goals is in providing sustainable IS for its citizenry. The worst experience with this national inability was the Nigerian Civil War, taking into account the various pre-1967 massacres and the worsening incidence of the war (1967 to 1970). Being that proliferation and illegal use of SALW have been aiding IS challenges in Nigeria, this study sought to explore the contributions of WT to proliferation of SALW and the observed IS situations of Nigeria in order to contribute to making the country a safer society.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The re-emergence of civilian rule in Nigeria in May 1999, after about 30 intermittent years of military rule, was accompanied by a situation of ever increasing IS challenges which have been limiting internal security provisioning (ISP) in the country (Ogbuzor, 2011; Alozieuwa, 2010; Allen & Okeke-Uzodike, 2010; Ishaku, 2009). Some of the IS challenges have included incessant crimes like armed robbery, kidnapping, oil bunkering, ethno-religious clashes, ethnic militia cum government clashes, politically motivated killings, government ordered genocide, indiscriminate murder of unarmed civilians by state security agents, proliferation of SALW, and acts of terrorism.
Interestingly, these IS problems have been highly aided by proliferation and indiscriminate use of SALW. So, part of the efforts needed to limit IS challenges in the country include the need to discover and regulate the sources and circuits of SALW flow in Nigeria. Consequently, many scholars (including Albert, 2014; Okeke & Oji, 2014; Bassey, 2012; Edeko, 2011; Badmus, 2010; Obuoforibo, 2010; Thom-Otuya, 2009; Harzen & Horner, 2007; Onuoha, 2006; Ikelegbe, 2005) have found that SALW are acquired through importation, illegal sales and renting by some unscrupulous citizens and IS agents, and various forms of loss to criminals. Although these scholars also attest, in various degrees, to the existence of functional WTs in Nigeria serving as alternative sources of SALW used in crimes in the country, they often suggest that the consequent crafted weapons are highly inferior and infinitesimally circulated, and thus inconsequential to IS problems in Nigeria. This latter perception seems to have usually diverted IS attention away from the possibility of viable alternative internal sourcing of weapons for limiting ISP in Nigeria. Thus, the likely threat posed by local sourcing of weapons has often been underexposed, underestimated, and underemphasised.
Considering the recurrently intensifying incidence of violence in the country, it is evident that if the acquisition and application of WTs in Nigeria is further ignored, they can so much influence SALW-related violence as to bring the country into self-destruction. Therefore, the problematic of this study was to critically interrogate the contributions of applied WTs in framing the conditions of ISP in Nigeria, with attempts to discover possible means of stemming the tide of multiple IS challenges, focusing on experiences from the former Eastern Region of Nigeria.
1.3 Objective of the Study
The main objective of the study is to explore the contribution of weapons technology (WT) to internal security provisioning (ISP) in Nigeria. The specific objectives are to:
- determine the types, modes of acquisition, circulation, and use of available WT and weapons in the area of study;
- probe the traits or peculiarities of the local craft-fabricators of SALW in the area of study;
- investigate the effects of circulation of WT and weapons on the state of internal security in the area of study;
- explore the challenges of controlling the circulation of WT and weapons alongside their effects on the internal security of the area of study;
- examine Nigerian Government’s strategies of regulating weapons and WT within the country and
- deduce possible means of stemming the deleterious consequences of circulation of WT and weapons on the internal security of the area of study.
1.4 Research Questions
This research made use of seven queries as follows:
- What types of WT and weapons exist in the area of study?
- How are the available WT and weapons acquired, circulated, and used in the area of study?
- What are the traits or peculiarities of the local craft-fabricators of weapons in the area of study?
- What are the effects of circulation of WT and weapons on the state of internal security in the area of study?
- How does the Nigerian Government regulate acquisition and use of WT and weapons within the country?
- What are the challenges of controlling the circulation of weapons and WT alongside their effects on public safety in the area of study?
- How can the identifiable interplay(s) between circulation of weapons and WT be managed to stem their deleterious consequences on the internal security of the area of study?
Ho1: Illegal local craft-production of weapons does not significantly contribute to weapons proliferation in Nigeria;
Ho2: WT does not have significant adverse effect on ISP in Nigeria.
Ao1: Contemporary WT does not exist in Nigeria;
Ao2: Competitively high-grade weapons are not locally crafted in Nigeria;
Ao3: There are no motivating factors for acquisition of WT in Nigeria;
Ao4: ISP and ISM in Nigeria are inadequate;
1.6 Justification for the Study
Contributing to remediation or, at least, containment of certain pressing IS challenges in Nigeria made this proposed study a worthwhile endeavour. Part of the justification of this research is that it sought to contribute to possible limitation of the destructiveness and recurrence of the arms-related crises experienced in Nigeria. The study was to achieve this target through additional fact-finding that could equip the national government, the security agencies, and the entire citizenry of Nigeria to handle the evolving IS challenges better. For instance, some of the reviewed extant literature (including Onyeozili, 2005; Nwanolue & Iwuoha, 2012) made direct or indirect mention of the existence of WT in Nigeria and acknowledged that the said technology is used to fabricate weapons in Nigeria, making use of either crude or refined methods or both. But these authors did not consider the question of how WTs are either acquired or spread in Nigeria. Neither did they provide tangible information on how the illegal and legal craft-productions take place. Moreover, without much concern, they mainly asserted the inferiority of locally produced weapons without much empirical verification. Many of the authors did not explore the motivations for local production of weapons. They merely acknowledged its existence, and mostly from secondary literature. Thus, part of the significance of the study is that it provided fact-based information on how WT used in local craft production of weapons in Nigeria is being sourced and spread; the reality of the acclaimed inferiority of locally fabricated weapons, and the factors that encourage people to get involved in it.
The study contributed to extant knowledge in the area of the roles played by WT in framing the IS condition of Nigeria. Many of the available literature on proliferation of weapons and its effects on IS in Nigeria (including Albert, 2014; Bassey, 2012; Badmus, 2010) did not try to explore the role of WT in determining the extent of proliferation of weapons and the state of IS in Nigeria. In addition, many of the existing resource materials were composed from secondary sources, adapting a few concrete data from other previously existing literature, and thereby being more of rehashes of existing knowledge. The study, therefore, went into more concrete research for current evidences on the technology behind local production of weapons, and to test the continuing relevance of the said extant literature.
1.7 Scope of the Study
Internal security (IS) issues in Nigeria cannot be adequately covered in a single research work. Therefore, the research was limited to the following areas of concern, as evident in the statement of problem.
1.7.1 The Content/Subject Scope of the Study
The content or subject scope of the study consisted of issues relating to availability, acquisition, and use of weapons’ technology for local craft production of weapons in Nigeria alongside their effects on IS of the country. This incorporated investigations into: The types of WT and weapons that exist in the area of study; the modes of acquisition, circulation, and application of WT in the area of study; the traits or peculiarities of the local craft-fabricators of weapons in the area of study; the possible relationships among application of WT in weapons building, proliferation of SALW, and the IS of Nigeria; factors that motivate people to quest for weapons in Nigeria; the challenges of controlling circulation of WT and weapons alongside their effects on public safety in the area of study; the national government’s mode of regulation of WT and weapons in Nigeria; and how the identifiable interplay(s) between circulation of WT and weapons could be managed to stem their deleterious consequences on the IS of the area of study. Also, the study reviewed the IS situation of Nigeria with emphasis on the former Eastern Region of Nigeria, alongside the identifiable factors that condition the IS situation of the country.