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PUBLIC PERCEPTION OF THE PROLIFERATION OF ILLEGAL SMALL ARMS AND ETHNO-RELIGIOUS CONFLICTS IN KADUNA METROPOLIS, KADUNA STATE, NIGERIA.
In recent times, violent communal and religious conflicts have become regular features of social life in Nigeria. These conflicts result from different value systems, aggressive competition for land, water and political resources, and unhealthy competition of some leaders. There is hardly a year when there is no major violent conflict. Conflict in this respect, especially in Northern part of the country has varied in scope, intensity and nature, and has taken immeasurable toll on human lives, leaving many dead, maimed and numerous others displaced, as a result of the involvement of small arms illegally acquired. To this end, this study seeks to find out the sources of illegal small arms in Kaduna metropolis and examine the impacts of ethno-religious conflicts on proliferation of illegal small arms. In collecting data for this study, two complementary modes of data collection – survey and in depth interviews were used, and the data generated were synergized. The data revealed that, smuggling from neighboring states/countries, politicians, local manufacturers, arms dealers, theft of security forces arms constitute the major sources of illegal small arms in Kaduna metropolis. Of equal importance is the revelation that prevalence of internal conflicts is responsible for continued proliferation of illegal small arms in the State. It was also found out that during conflicts, the use of illegal small arms destroy lives and properties, cause injuries and maiming, displace people and create general sense of insecurity. In conclusion, the study recommended the need to take decisive measures to reduce the spate of ethnoreligious conflicts in Kaduna metropolis in particular and Nigeria in general as a way of arresting the illegal use of small arms.
Key Words: Proliferation, Illegal arms, Ethnicity, Religion, Conflict, Small arms