AFTER a three-year study carried out by the Conflict Armament Research, CAR, an independent investigative organisation based in the UK, into the proliferation of weapons used by armed groups involved in Nigeria’s herder-farmer conflict, it shows that most of the weapons were smuggled into the country from Libya, Turkey and Côte d’Ivoire.
Violence from clashes between herders and farmers in North – Central Nigeria has claimed the lives of more than 3,600 people and displaced 300,000 people since 2014 according to data obtained from Armed Conflict Location & Event Data, ACLED project.
The focal points in the study were Zamfara, Katsina and Kaduna states which had been hit hard by attacks from armed bandits since 2017.
Some of the weapons used by armed groups and communities in the conflict were traced to newly manufactured firearms from Turkey, which international criminal networks have smuggled en masse to West Africa.
“Bulk trafficking by sea from Turkey is an unexpected source of illicit weapons in Nigeria. One BABALE-branded shotgun made in Turkey bears markings that suggest it was manufactured in 2014. This is the most recently produced weapon in CAR’s Nigeria dataset.
“Combatants are accessing relatively new weapons, which arrive in Nigeria thanks to the efforts of sophisticated, transcontinental weapon traffickers,” the report stated.
Three major international smuggling routes for weapons into the country used in the conflict in the country that was identified in the report include Libya, Turkey and Côte d’Ivoire.
However, the study revealed that some set of weapons from northern Nigeria are Iraqi assault rifles manufactured in 1987 which were found with some terrorist groups having the same weapons from the same batch but the batch markings were rendered illegible.
Also, weapons from the stockpiles of Nigerian security forces were also found to have been used in the conflict.
“Predictably, given widespread weapon diversion from many governments in the region, CAR has traced four weapons in the data set to the stockpiles of Nigerian defence and security forces,” the report says.
The report also affirmed that armed groups involved in the bloodshed in Kaduna, Katsina and Zamfara states possessed significant numbers of factory-produced small arms manufactured in Europe, East Asia, the Middle East and North America.
A prevalence of Chinese Type 56-2 7.62 × 39 mm assault rifles among armed groups and communities in both Zamfara and Katsina states were discovered in the study which was produced by the Jianshe Machine Tool Factory in China.
Type 56-2 weapons produced by the Jianshe Machine Tool Factory are typically exported in batches with sequential serial numbers, it is likely that these weapons derive from the same source.
The Chinese government has confirmed to the United Nations that it lawfully exported rifles within this range to Côte d’Ivoire prior to 2004, which found its way into Nigeria.
Described as the first attempt to document weapons used in the herder-farmer violence in Nigeria, and its supply routes into Nigeria.
“This is the only systematic effort to document and analyse the provenance of illicit weapons and ammunition that have been circulating among northern Nigerian communities and that have been used in herder-farmer violence,” the report stated.