Elmina (C/R), May 10, GNA - The Deputy Superintendent of Police in charge of the National Firearms Bureau, Mr Francis Aboagye-Nyarko, on Monday, expressed concern about lapses in the management of armouries in the country, that had led to the "siphoning" of small arms and weapons, leading to the proliferation of such arms in the society.
He said 1,500 of such weapons, which are also illegally manufactured by local blacksmiths, have been retrieved from armed robbers and in police swoops just between January and May this year. Mr Francis Aboagye-Nyarko expressed this concern at a round table conference to solicit support of the media in the elimination of such weapons at Elmina on Monday.
The forum preceded the Central Regional launch of an awareness raising campaign against illicit small arms and light weapons on Tuesday; organized by the Ghana National Commission on Small Arms with support from the UNDP.
According to him, 1,445 of such weapons were also retrieved and destroyed between 2001 and 2004, and gave the assurance that measures were being put in place to rectify the situation.
DSP Aboagye-Nyarko, in this regard, appealed to the public to support efforts to eliminate the use of such arms, and to offer information about persons involved in the illegal manufacture and possession of such weapons.
Launching the campaign on Tuesday, the Deputy Minister of the Interior, Captain Nkrabea Effah Darteh, enumerated the dangers associated with the proliferation of such weapons, and said their use should be controlled to avert conflicts.
The Deputy Minister said at present, there are about 100,000 illicit arms in circulation in the country, and described the situation as alarming, necessitating the campaign.
Captain Effah Darteh stressed that, the use of such arms should be discouraged, because when they are used during conflicts, they maim, kill and destroy. He expressed the concern that the government had spent about six billion cedis on the Dabon crisis alone.
Mr David Asante Apeadu, Director of CID said, the assembling and manufacturing of such weapons, was prohibited and stressed that even those who wish to take over arms legally belonging to deceased relatives, have to seek permission to do so.
"Considering the extent of proliferation of arms in the country, we are living in dangerous times", he said, and also urged Ghanaians to expose people who are illegally dealing in such weapons.
The Programme Manager of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Mr Daniel Andoh, also deplored the fact that the number of such arms circulating in the country kept increasing, and had become a major concern to his outfit.
The Krontihemaa of Oguaa Traditional Area, Nana Amba Eyiaba, said all citizens had the responsibility to rid the nation of these arms to make it a safe haven for all.
She appealed to women in particular, to join in the crusade against the use of arms, as they are the most vulnerable in times of conflicts, stressing that, "our morals and virtues as Ghanaians should not be compromised"
The awareness campaign is among others to educate and sensitise the general public on the negative impact and dangers of handling such arms and help create an environment of peace and stability to enhance accelerated development of the country.