“Illegal arms manufacturing is of national concern, but…..” – Sen. Ned Nwoko

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“Illegal arms manufacturing is of national concern, but…..” – Sen. Ned Nwoko

Sen. Ned Nwoko (PDP-Delta) says Nigeria Army’s discovery of an illegal bomb and arms factory in a community in Delta on Wednesday is of national concern.

He was reacting to the discovery in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Saturday.

He said while decisive action needed to be taken to prevent the proliferation of illegal arms manufacturing, talents behind such factories could become national assets in the building of legitimate industries for development.

Troops of the 63 Brigade of the Nigerian Army discovered the illegal arms manufacturing factory at Onicha-Olona community in Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta on Wednesday.

Nwoko said amidst the discovery laid an opportunity for positive transformation.

“The talents demonstrated, albeit unlawfully, by those involved in the arms manufacturing can be redirected towards lawful and productive endeavours.

“It is evident that Nigeria’s economy is facing significant challenges, exacerbated by escalating importation.

“As indicated by the National Bureau of Statistics, Nigeria has experienced a dramatic surge in its expenditure on arms, witnessing a remarkable 418 per cent increase in weapons imports between 2022 and 2023.

“As a nation, we must look inward and harness our indigenous talents for the greater good.

“The Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) must take proactive steps to engage with individuals possessing such skills and offer them legal avenues for their expertise to flourish,’’ Nwoko said.

DICON is the state-run defence corporation of Nigeria and operated by the Nigerian Armed Forces. It is responsible for the production of defence equipment and civilian products.

Nwoko noted that engaging such talents would help DICON to produce adequate arms and ammunition for the armed forces and for other security agencies responsible for national security.

“Findings within the illegal factory included a cache of arms and sophisticated equipment for manufacturing improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

“Also found was the manufacturer’s ability to modify AK47 magazines to carry 60 rounds of ammunition instead of the standard 30 rounds.

“These point to the need for rational solutions to discoveries such as this,’’ he said.

Nwoko, a member of the Senate Committee on Defence stressed that an individual capable of modifying an AK47 magazine, originally designed to hold 30 rounds, to accommodate 60 rounds using rudimentary equipment, held immense potential.

He said that with proper legal support and access to adequate resources, the manufacturer could achieve much more.

He noted that the Ministry of Science and Technology had a huge role to play in such matters as well.

“How else can we grow our indigenous scientists and technologists’’? he queried.

“We need a system where any invention or special skills are embraced and acknowledged.

“We don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

“Even someone showing the ability to replicate anything should be funded in an organised manner that could lead to improvement in technology and the creation of jobs in the process.

“In this case, the young man’s passion and ability to build drones should be harnessed and put to good use,’’ Nwoko stressed.

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