Due to high level of crime and insecurity in the country, citizens have started deeming it fit to atleast have a firearm in their homes to use for protection against armed robbers and other imminent dangers. the quest for private possession of firearm is on the increase. The possession of firearms is highly regulated so as to ensure that the people granted licence to own Firearms are not danger to themselves and the society.
Generally the category of people allowed to carry firearms are the people in active military service, securities, the police and other government agencies empowered by statute carry such. Licence to own firearms is not a guaranteed right in Nigeria and so application for licence can be declined by the relevant authorities where they deem it fit. There are categories of persons who are precluded from acquiring personal fire arms.
WHAT IS FIREARMS ?
FireArms Act Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1990 defined firearm to mean ” any lethal barrelled weapon of any description from which any shot, bullet or other missile can be discharged, and includes a prohibited firearm, a personal firearm and a muzzle-loading firearm of any of the categories referred to in Parts I, II and III respectively of the Schedule hereto, and any component part of any such firearm.
FireArms Act generally generally prohibits having possession of firearm but allows it where it is licenced and duly granted by the relevant authorities.
S. 3 of Firearms Act provides that no person shall have in his possession or under his control any firearm of one of the categories specified in Part I of the Schedule hereto (hereinafter referred to as a prohibited firearm) except in accordance with a licence granted by the President acting in his discretion.
The firearms in this category is mostly weapons of war and would usually not be granted to individuals. This is why the procedure for licence was made very stringent in that only the President acting in his discretion can grant licence of weapons under this category. Normally individuals would not need this kind of weapon for the protection of lives and property. The type of weapons under this category are usually possessed by the military.
Section 4 of the Firearms Act also provides that no person shall have in his possession or under his firearms control any firearm of one of the categories specified in Part II of the Schedule to this Act (hereinafter referred to as a personal firearm) except in accordance with a licence granted in respect thereof by the Inspector-General of Police, which licences shall be granted or refused in accord-ance with principles decided upon by the National Council of Ministers.
The firearms in this Category can be licenced to individual by the inspector General of Police or any other officer he delegates to do so. These weapons are not so complex and dangerous like the weapons in Part 1 of Firearms Act.
Under licencing part 2, no person shall have in his possession or under his control any ammunition in respect of any firearm referred to in the Schedule to this Act except in accordance with the terms of a licence or permit granted to him and in force in respect of such firearm.
(2)This section shall apply in respect of all ammunition as defined in section 2 of this Act, except-
(a) ammunition for a muzzle-loading firearm in the possession or under the control of a person outside Lagos and in any area not for the time being the subject of an order in accordance with section 5 of this Act;
(b) lead shot for use only as a weight or weights;
(c)blank cartridges (other than those for humane killers) not exceeding 2.54centimetres in diameter.
CATEGORIES OF PERSONS WHO CANNOT BE GRANTED LICENSE TO OWN FIREARMS
Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (1) of this section, no licence or permit under the provisions of this Act shall be granted if there is reason to believe that the applicant or holder of the licence-
(a) is under the age of seventeen;
(b) is of unsound mind;
(c) is not fit to have possession of the firearm in question on account of defective eyesight;
(d) is a person of intemperate habits;
(e) has during the previous five years been convicted of an offence involving violence or the threat of violence.
PROHIBITED FIREARMS IN PART 1 INCLUDES.
2.Apparatus for the discharge of any explosive or gas-diffusing projectile.
3. Rocket weapons.
4.Bombs and grenades.
5.Machine-guns and machine-pistols.
6.Military rifles, namely those of calibres 7.62 mm, 9 mm, 300 inches and 303 inches.
7. Revolvers and pistols whether rifled or unrifled (including flint-lock pistols and cap pistols).
8. Any other firearm not specified in Part II or Part III of this Schedule.
FIREARMS IN PART II
1. Shotguns other than- (a)automatic and semi-automatic shotguns; and
(b)shotguns provided with any kind of mechanical reloading device.
2.Sporting rifles, namely rifles of calibres other than those specified in Item 6 of Part I.
3. Air-guns, air-rifles or air-pistols.
4. Humane killers of the captive bolt type.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LICENCING AND PROCEDURES.
It is pertinent to note that there is no right to own guns and amunitions in Nigeria. Unlike in other countries where people have the right to possess guns.
S. 7 of Firearms Act further provided that; (1)Subject to the provisions of subsection (5) of section 5 of this Act, no person shall, as of right, be entitled to the grant of any licence or permit under this Act and the authority having the function of granting such licence or permit may without being bound to assign any reason therefor refuse the grant of such licence or permit or, subject to the provisions of any regulations made under section 33 of this Act, may impose such terms or conditions as he may think fit, and may revoke such licence or permit for such cause as he may consider appropriate:
Provided that any person aggrieved by any such decision, other than a decision by the President, may appeal in writing to the President acting in his discretion whose decision thereon shall be final.
An application for licence to bear a firearm of categories 6, 7 and 8 in Part 1 of the Schedule to the Act and of the categories specified in Part II of the Schedule to the Act shall be made only to the licensing authority having authority for the area in which the applicant resides.
1. Application for licence is made at the nearest licencing authority for firearms under part II, usually to the Inspector General of Police stating that you wish to be granted licence to possess firearms.
2. the inspector General of Police or any other officer duly authorised to grant licence will review the application and determine whether to grant licence or not and the type of firearm.
3. The inspector General of Police shall maintain in the prescribed form a register of firearms and licences to bear the same issued in each licensing area.
4. The Governor of a State, and the President may by regulations provide for the fees to be paid in respect of the licensing of personal firearms in the State.
5. A permit issued under this regulation shall be valid for a period of sixty days only from the date of issue thereto.
6. Upon the production of a firearm and licence as aforesaid, such authority shall-
(a) if the licence has been issued under his authority insert the full particulars of the firearm in the register of firearms and in the Schedule to the licence;
(b)if the licence has not been issued under his authority, insert the full particulars of the firearm in the schedule to the licence and notify the authority which issued the licence of the particulars of the firearm, for insertion in the register of firearms, and of the action taken.
7. Every firearm which does not bear the maker’s name and number or a mark or distinguishing letter or letters and number, shall be marked by the licensing authority by whom it is registered.
The Inspector-General of Police shall allocate to each licensing authority a distinguishing letter or letters, and the licensing authority shall mark a firearm by stamping on the stock or other suitable place the distinguishing letter or letters so allocated to him, and a serial number.
8. Whenever a licence or permit to bear a firearm or ammunition-
(a)has expired and has not been renewed, or permit or on
(b) has been revoked or suspended but the firearm or ammunition in respect of which such licence or permit was issued has not been forfeited, the holder of the licence or permit shall forthwith deposit the firearm and ammunition (if any) in a public armoury.
S. 9 Firearms Act.
NB. The holder of a licence to bear firearm who intends to leave Nigeria and who does not intend to take the firearm out of Nigeria, shall, prior to his departure, deposit such firearm and ammunition therefor (if any), in a public armoury, and shall give notice of such deposit in the prescribed form to the authority which issued the licence.( S. 10 FireArms Act.)
Conclusively it is an offence to bear firearms without the requisite licence granted and individuals who wish to bear fire arms in Nigeria should know that it is not as of right. Such licence is granted based on the discretion of the President or inspector General of Police who can withhold grant of licence where they deem fit. It is not all firearms that licence can be granted an individual and before a person should apply to bear firearms such a person should ensure he or she meets the requirements.
Written by Mpi Elton Chizindu Esq.
FireArms Act Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.