Damilola Aina, Abuja
Daily Courier – Daily courier has learnt that despite how appealing the idea of gun possession may be, considering the level of breakdown and lawlessness in the country, the existing laws of the federation of Nigeria do not provide for a right to gun possession.
“The Nigerian Constitution, which is the supreme law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and which provides for the actionable and non-actionable rights of Nigerian citizens, is silent on the right to the possession of guns or firearms.
“This is different from the position in the United States of America. The second amendment the American Constitution provides that “… the rights of the people to bear and keep arms shall not be infringed”.
“Irrespective of the fact that there is no inherent right to the possession of firearms in Nigeria, the laws of the federation of Nigeria do not expressly prohibit the possession of firearms by private citizens.”
How to acquire firearms in Nigeria
In order to acquire firearms in Nigeria, a person has to make an application to the relevant authority, which will grant a license after a thorough check on the applicant as possession of firearms is not a constitutional right of a citizen.
“The grant of an application for the possession of firearms is based solely on the discretion of the President or the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and this can be refused without any reason. In the same vein, the applicant is not required by law to provide a genuine reason for the grant of the license. However, in practice it is advised to have a valid reason for the application for a license to possess firearms.
Where to make an application for grant of firearms license
An application for the grant of a license to possess firearm can be made at the office of the Commissioner of Police of any of the States of the Federation.
“The process involves the filling of forms and provision of basic information such as name, identity number, address, state of origin, date of birth among others.
“When the application is granted, the applicant can proceed to a licensed dealer to purchase the particular type of firearm listed in the license.
“Upon the purchase, s/he is to register the serial number of the firearm at the office of the Commissioner of Police, i.e., a police station.”
Persons disqualified from acquiring firearms
The Firearms Act expressly provides that the license to possess firearms cannot be granted to the following persons;
People under the age of seventeen
People of unsound mind
People not fit to have possession of the firearm in question on account of defective eyesight
A person of intemperate habits
Someone who has been convicted of an offence involving violence or the threat of violence during the five years preceding the application.
Requirements for a grant of firearm license
A person has to have attained the age of 17
Possess a clean criminal record, among other requirements, in order to be fit for the grant of a license to possess firearms.
The applicant must pass a background check relating to his or her mental health, addiction record or traits of domestic violence.
There is no need to provide third-party reference for a character check.
Furthermore, once a license is granted, the holder of the license is to act within the purview of the license.
Thus, if the license stipulates that the holder is allowed to be in possession of 1 piece of firearm, such holder is to stick to the number of firearms granted in the license.
In such scenario, possession of more than 1 piece of firearm exceeds the scope of the license and amounts to illegal possession of firearm under the Firearms Act.