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Tamale Destroys Weapons

2005-07-12 13:13:13
This article has been read 1482 times.

Hundreds of assorted weapons have been destroyed in Tamale in a symbolic gesture to observe this year’s United Nations Arms Destruction Day.

The weapons included sub-machine guns and locally-produced light weapons retrieved from conflict areas and metal smith shops in the Northern Region.The mass production and stockpiling of such light weapons are believed to be a major reason for the prevalence of post-conflict tension in the Northern Region and other flashpoints in the sub-region.

Examples of such unfortunate events recorded in the north and which continue to scar the Ghanaian conscience are the Gonja-Vagla war of 1979, the Nanumba-Kokomba war of 1981/2,the 1994 destructive war and the Dagbon crisis of 2002.

The choice of Tamale as venue for this year’s weapons destruction ceremony is, therefore, indicative of the national desire to focus attention on the security situation there, as well as the need to tackle the means of prosecuting these armed conflicts.

It is estimated that over the past year, about half a million civilians have been killed worldwide through the use of illegal light weapons and small arms, the proliferation of which is highest in West Africa.

The symbolic armed destruction in Tamale was supervised by Lt Col Patrick Kwasi Leba-Kamanya, the Commanding Officer of the Base Workshop in Accra.It was witnessed by the Deputy Interior Minister,Capt Nkrabea Effah-Dartey (retd), the Northern Regional Minister, Alhaji Abubakari Sadique Boniface,and the Resident Director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Ghana, Mr Christopher Bahuet.

Others included the acting Metropolitan Chief Executive, Alhaji Iddrisu Adam and Service Commanders.Touching on the significance of the ceremony,the Northern Regional Minister,Alhaji Boniface recounted the intermittent conflicts that had occurred in the area since 1979.

“We remember with great sorrow the Gonja-Vagla war of 1979, the Nanumba-Kokomba war of 1981/2 and we have not yet forgotten the outcome of the pain and trauma of the 1994 destructive war and now the Dagbon crisis of 2002,” he stated.

According to the minister, the region currently offered one of the biggest markets for arms through its porous boarders that were difficult to contain.

Alhaji Boniface also observed that although the ban on possessing and carrying of arms in the region had not been lifted, “people import and use them with impunity, with specific reference to Yendi and Tamale and to some extent Bimbilla and the Bimoba areas” .

He advised the people to invest their resources in productive ventures because “arms, by their nature, do not provide security.They are dangerous to both the owner and his neighbour”.

The minister urged them to always resort to dialogue and use the traditional mechanism for conflict resolution, instead of resorting to the use of violence requiring the use of weapons.

The acting Tamale Metropolitan Chief Executive,Alhaji Iddrisu Adam, said the establishment of the Ghana National Commission on Small Arms was a sign of the seriousness that the government attached to the elimination of small arms and light weapons from the system.

Earlier in the day, the last in the series of awareness raising campaigns on Small Arms and Light Weapons was inaugurated.

It was facilitated by Yankah and Associates, in collaboration with the Northern Regional Co-ordinating Council, with support from the United Nations Development Agency (UNDP).

The UNDP Resident Representative, Mr Bahuet, observed that the presence and use of small arms and light weapons hindered the prevention of conflicts and post-conflict reconciliation.

“Because of their low cost, wide availability and durability, small arms and light weapons have become weapons of mass destruction by causing half a million civilians deaths and millions of injuries a year,” he intimated.

Mr Bahuet further noted that there were a number of indirect impacts, such as forced displacement, property confiscation, rape, torture and loss of family members and friends.

The day is observed annually by the UN.

source: graphic

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