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161 illegal guns seized by Police

A total of 161 guns has been seized during Police operations from January to June, Mr Prosper Agblor, Director-General of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) said on Monday.He said out of the number, 93 were locally made single barrel shotguns, 41 locally manufactured pistols, 10 imported pistols, eight pump action guns, five AK47 assault rifles and four locally made double barrel shotguns.

Mr Agblor said 463 assorted ammunition were also seized during the operations while five blacksmiths engaged in the illicit trade had been arrested and are currently being prosecuted.

The CID boss gave the figures at the opening of a training programme organised by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in collaboration with the National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons for personnel of security agencies.

Mr Agblor therefore called on the public to assist the Police by volunteering credible information that would lead to the arrest of the perpetrators.

He said security at the country?s borders should be tightened to curb the trafficking of firearms across the borders and to swiftly prosecute offenders by giving them stiffer punishment to serve as deterrent to others.

Mr Agblor said the trafficking of small arms and light weapons in West Africa was a topical issue among governments, civil society and the international community.

He noted that the proliferation of arms and ammunition in Ghana may be due to the local manufacture of firearms.

?They manufacture not only single barrel guns but sophisticated guns such as pump action guns and self-loading rifles as well as pistols.?

He said the ready market for guns is an incentive for gun manufacturers and mentioned areas like Alavanyo, and Nkonya in the Volta Region, Suame Magazine in the Ashanti Region, Techiman and Kintampo in the Brong Ahafo Region and Bawku in the Upper East Region as where the trade is well grounded.

Mr Agblor said some of the weapons were smuggled from neighbouring countries that were emerging from civil war.

Mr James Agalga, Deputy Minister of the Interior, who opened the training programme said, the recent armed attacks on innocent people in the West Gate Shopping Mall in Kenya,  students in Nigeria  and in the Bawku conflict were examples of gun violence where sophisticated weapons believed to have been trafficked into the countries were used.

?Firearms trafficking which is a very worrisome phenomenon the world over leads to illicit arms proliferation, armed conflict and gun violence with devastating effects,? he said.

Mr Dominic Sam, Country Director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said the response to firearms trafficking and transnational organised crime should be a long-term commitment in order to achieve results.

?It is significant to focus on preventive and control measures as well as bringing perpetrators to justice, ? he said.

Mr Sam said the UNODC is therefore collaborating with the Government to develop a National Integrated Programme to fight trans-national organised crime and to strengthen the criminal justice system in Ghana.

Mr Jones Applerh, Executive Secretary of the National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons said the use of guns for illegal small scale mining also fuels the demand for illicit weapons.

?Even though we have highly competent investigators and prosecutors, it is important to note that crimes related to illicit trafficking and abuse of small arms is becoming more and more sophisticated.?

Mr Applerh expressed worry that the inability of investigators to properly investigate and adequately prosecute such offenses may prolong the process of administration of justice and in some cases lack of credible evidence may lead to a situation where offenders could be set free.

He expressed his appreciation to the UNODC for supporting the initiative, saying Ghana is the first beneficiary of the training.

Source: GNA/Ghana

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