With the string of armed robbery attacks ravaging Lagos and Ogun state in the last few days as well as the slow response of the police, citizens have been moved to take matters into their own hands. Young men have taken to the streets with machetes, axes, sticks and other improvised weapons in a bid to protect themselves. While this can be seen as brave, of what use will knives be against guns carried by these armed robbers.
This raises the discussion on private ownership of firearms. Unlike foreign countries, the idea of owning guns has never really been a topic of discussion and not a lot of people go on to get the license, However, necessity is the mother of invention, and it seems like now is the time for that conversation.
But before one can own a gun anywhere in the world, a license is required. While information about gun license vary from sources, below are consensus steps to acquiring a gun license in Nigeria. And where one can buy firearms.
- Applicants must be Eighteen years (18) years or older (we will come back to this)
- Clean criminal record
- Doctor’s certificate that certifies physical and mental fitness
- 4 Passport size photographs
- Attested copy of address proof: Ration Card, Voter Identity Card, Passport, Electricity/ Water/Telephone Bill, Driving Licence, Property (House) Tax, Tax Return, National identification Card
- Attested copy of date of birth: Police clearance Certificate, Birth certificate, Affidavit sworn before a Magistrate/Notary stating date and place of birth by illiterate or semi-illiterate applicants.
- Make an application to the Commissioner of Police in your State of residence.
- The police will issue you with an application form that will require your bio-data.
- Some of the pertinent information required are:
- Your full names
- Reasons for applying for the license
- Date of Birth. Note here that guns are not issued to persons below thirty-five (35) years of age. (This is funny because the eligibility section says applicants must be 18 years and older. But you get the gist).
- Further required to accompany the application form is a medical report that confirms that the applicant’s sanity is normal.
- Another medical report is also required on the applicants chest. This is to protect the applicant from the sharp retraction that occurs when a gun is fired.
- Four (4) clear passport photographs of the applicant are also required.
- On obtaining your gun from the nearest gun dealer, prices vary depending on area of purchase; the police should normally register the serial number of the weapon.
- Upon a satisfactory appraisal of the application the license is issued in a booklet form, bearing one of the passport photographs of the applicant and carrying the stamp of the state police headquarters.
Gun types available for acquisition
Private gun license is also limited to shotguns, as revolvers and pistols are only issued to the police and armed forces personnel.
Where to buy?
There are many underground ways to buy guns in Nigeria. From smuggling it in (same way drugs are smuggled) to buying at black markets (don’t ask us where o) to buying from (ex)militants, and so on. There are local craftsmen who can mold one for you – those who make rifles for hunters, etc. You can even buy under the table from people in active (para)military service. But (for now), the legal place to buy a gun in Nigeria is at Operations Department of the Nigerian Police Force.
An alleged cultist and armed robber recently confessed to buying a gun for N30,000. But that is black market rate. Approved shotguns usually cost between N100,000 and N250,000 in Nigeria.
Gun licenses are subject to renewal every year for a token fee of five hundred naira (N500.00) only.
Processing takes between 6 months to one year.
The license is valid for 60 days, then after renewal it can be valid for 1- 2 years before another renewal is required.