Nigeria destroys illegal small arms

April 6, 2005

Nigeria is cracking down illegal firearms, the Xinhua news agency reports.

So far this week the Nigerian government has destroyed 2,738 small arms and 5,368 rounds of ammunition, primarily in the troubled Niger Delta region.

The government began a project last October to rid the country of illegal arms and Tuesday's news will bring the total weapons seized and destroyed to 4,678 along with 8,256 rounds of ammunition.

Nigerian Defence Minister Rabiu Kwankwaso told local Nigerian newspaper Vanguard, this was "the highest single destruction ever". He added: "The war against the proliferation of illegal arms and ammunition is being won by the government."

The government will continue to "recover and destroy illegally acquired arms in order to engender a peaceful and secured environment for socio-political, economic and cultural development," Kwankwaso continued.

The Niger Delta holds most of the country's oil reserves, which makes Nigeria the eighth largest producer in the world. Fighting in the region claims over 1,000 lives a year.

Residents of the Niger Delta have been fighting armed campaigns against oil companies that have begun oil production in the area. They claim that they have been inadequately compensated, that the land and water are being polluted, and that the Nigerian police and military have been acting in collusion with the oil producers to attack local villages, and torture and execute campaigners.