Report: 1.3m illicit arms circulating in Ghana

Over 1.3 million weapons believed to have been smuggled into Ghana are not registered, according to preliminary investigations conducted by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center.

Chairman of the commission on small arms and light weapons, Brigadier General Francis Agyemfra is concerned about the security of the state and wants measures in place to retrieve the weapons.

“We are very much concerned about the spread of illicit arms and their possible impact on our democracy especially those that could be triggered by violence," Brigadier Gen Francis Agyemfra (RTD) said.

He was speaking at a Political dialogue on small armed violence at Dodowa.

Executive Secretary of the Small Arms Commission, Jones Aplerh, says the finding by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre is worrying.

“As at 2004 the number of illicit weapons was around 240,000”, Mr Aplerh told Newsnight on Tuesday. He stressed that the recent figures is cause for concern.

He however, explained that the methodology used by the Kofi Annan centre may well have overblown the current illicit small arms figures.

He said the Kofi Annan centre makes its assessment of the number of small arms weapons in the country based on civilian weapons that have been licensed at the Small Arms Commission.

He said current number of registered civilian arms stood at 1.2 million.

 He said the Kofi Annan centre's methodology “may give a clear picture, or it may even be more than [the 1.3 million figure] or less than that."

According to Mr Aplerh, although the current number of small arms in the country — per the latest report — is worrying, it should not be the main focus.

"What we need to worry about is the demand-driven factors; the long-standing land and cheiftaincy issues", he pointed out.

He said government agencies and other stakeholders must work together to settle desputes at violence hotspots.