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02.06.2005 General News

Northerners asked to hand over illegal arms

GNA

Tamale, June 2, GNA- The Northern Regional Coordinating Council (RCC), has appealed to people in the region who are illegally possessing arms, to voluntarily hand them over to the security agencies in their own interest.

The RCC also asked the Government to introduce an incentive package for people who volunteer to hand over such weapons and those who give information, leading to the confiscation of such weapons. Mr Charles Abass, Regional Coordinating Director, made the appeal at a day's sensitisation workshop, on "Small Arms".

The workshop, which was which was organised by the Northern Region Peace Advocacy Council, a local non-governmental organisation, attracted butchers, blacksmiths, traditional leaders, representatives from the security agencies, the political parties and civil society groups. Mr Abass said the protracted Yendi chieftaincy crises, and other conflict situations in the region had led to the stockpiling of arms. He said it was the vision of the RCC to ensure that peace prevailed in the region to enable the people to engage in productive activities. Mr Jewura Yeboah, Deputy Regional Police Commander who spoke on the topic: "The Role Of The Security Agencies... To Fight The Issue Of Small Arms In Our Communities", said the police had adopted snap inspections at some checkpoints to combat the smuggling of arms.

He appealed to civil society to continue to provide information to the police to enable them stem the proliferation and trade in small arms. Mr Yeboah urged the Government to create employment for the youth, saying, "The devil finds work for the idle hand". Mr Anthony R. Wiredu, the Regional State Attorney, warned that with the exception of the security agencies the possession of arms by individuals in the North was illegal.

Mr Abubakari Iddrisu Saeed, Programmes Coordinator for Security and Development in Africa, a peace oriented non-governmental organisation said the proliferation of small arms led to the recruitment of child soldiers .

He called on civil society organisations, traditional rulers and other community opinion leaders to join the campaign in sensitising the people on the dangers of small arms.

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