ILLEGAL ARMS CACHE

POLICE and other security wings should urgently launch thorough investigations into the cache of illegal assorted arms seized from a Mpika businessman who was arrested on Tuesday.
Police should not leave any stones unturned and establish how and from where the businessman acquired the firearms and military uniforms found concealed at his residence.
It is also crucial for the nation to know why the businessman was keeping weapons and military fatigue that are not proscribed for civilians under the law.
The man’s background should also be thoroughly checked for police and the nation to have a clear understanding of who exactly the man is and his motives.
While the law in Zambia allows civilians to own guns that are prescribed for under the law, the illegal weapons seized from the Mpika man are a cause of grave concern because this borders on the security of the nation.    
It is mindboggling that one man would own such a huge arsenal in a country where there is no war or conflict and even worse without being detected.
What is the man’s motive anyway? Could it be that he is planning some clandestine activities or perhaps he is already involved in some criminal acts? If so it means he has accomplices and who are they?
No-one keeps so many guns, including the famous AK47 rifle and military attire just for the prestige or for the sake of it. Whatever the reasons, it wouldn’t be wrong to conclude that the arms are for a selfish sinister agenda.
We, therefore, vehemently implore the police to get to the bottom of this matter because not too long ago a group of citizens who were reportedly undergoing unknown training by a foreign national were also caught with an assortment of weapons in Southern Province.
The group was arrested but it remains a mystery as to what become of them – who they were and why they were being trained. Could they be linked to the Mpika man?
With the Mpika arms cache seizure in the limelight, it is now incumbent upon the police to dig deeper and establish if the Mpika man is linked to that group.
Beyond this, the man might have been using guns for banditry or is he just a ‘lone ranger’ or one who is merely in love with keeping an array of guns?  This is yet to be proved.
But whatever the reasons for keeping the illegal guns, security wings should not entertain such “insanity” because the arms pose a serious security risk to the nation.
As already alluded to, we prod police to trace the source of the firearms and take decisive action to deter more arms from falling in wrong hands as in this case.
Of concern is that with a continuous influx of refugees pouring into the country from Congo DR, illegal guns could surreptitiously be finding their way into the country.
While we are cognizant of the fact that Zambian security wings are doing their best to screen refugees coming in from Congo DR for arms, but it is also true that some refugees enter the country dubiously especially that the borderline is wide.
The possibility of some refugees smuggling the weapons into the country is high and perhaps that is how the Mpika man was able to illegally acquire the guns.
This situation is not healthy for the safety of the nation and we therefore urge our security wings not to relax or handle the Mpika arms cache with kid gloves.
Who knows, investigations could as well lead the security wings to the uncovering of bigger illegal arms caches that might be concealed for clandestine activities in the country.
In any case, how many more people are secretly hiding illegal weapons as is the case with the Mpika man?  Maybe it is high time government pondered on cleanups as was the case in the UNIP days.

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