The National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons, on Wednesday began its nationwide exercise to mark all weapons of the various security agencies, which aims at controlling the proliferation of illegal arms.
The marking of the weapons involves a systematic embossment of unique identification numbers on firearms in an easily identifiable and coherent manner, upon which a database will be kept, to help trace any illegally diverted weapon from the state armoury.
Mr. Jones Borteye Applerh, Executive Security for the Commission said the exercise beginning with the Military, will be extended to other State Security agencies such as the Police, Prisons, Immigration and the Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS).
He said the initiative which has began in the Greater-Accra Region, will be replicated in the other regions across the country, and would also be extended to civilian weapon holders.
Mr. Applerh stated that the exercise which will take a number of years, is also in fulfillment of Article 18 of the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons which Ghana is signatory to.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency, he stated that the number of weapons involved in the marking exercise cannot be disclosed due to security reasons.
He said the programme will also enhance the commission’s criminal investigations and detection of crime, and to avoid diversion to a large extent.
Mr Applerh revealed that currently about a million illegally registered weapons are in possession of civilians, and added “based on a data, only a little above 37,000 civilians renewed their license in 2012, which implies over 900,000, civilians possess their weapons illegally”.
He explained that civilians who failed to renew their license could be charged for illegal possession of arms, which would attract a prison sentence of life in imprisonment.
He, therefore, advised civilians, especially farmers, hunters and individuals who use arms for self protection, to renew their licences yearly at nearby police stations.