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Last Updated: Friday, 1 September 2006, 09:37 GMT 10:37 UK
Nigeria police to get arms boost
Nigerian police and army patrol (File picture)
Fifty thousand new recruits are currently being trained
Nigeria's police are planning to buy 80,000 new firearms ahead of elections due in April next year.

Police spokesman Haz Iwendi told the BBC that the guns were needed to arm 50,000 new police officers.

He said the arms, including 70,000 assault rifles, were needed to confront armed criminals.

Elections in 2003 were marred by several assassinations and three high-profile politicians have been murdered this year.

Since the end of military rule in 1999, thousands of people have been killed in ethnic and religious violence.

'Bold step'

"The federal government decided the police need to be further equipped to face the challenges of electioneering - before, during and after the election," Mr Iwendi told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

Armed militants in a boat
We need the equipment to match the ferocity of the criminals
Police spokesman Haz Iwendi

He said it was a "bold step" but said people should not be worried about police intimidation and obsolete arms would be destroyed.

Mr Iwendi said the new arms that were being ordered were:

  • 40,000 AK47 rifles
  • 30,000 K2 rifles
  • 10,000 pistol Berettas.

"We need the equipment to match the ferocity of the criminals," he said.

The southern oil-producing Niger Delta is awash with weapons and kidnappings have become an almost daily occurrence.

Some armed groups in the region have been used by politicians to help win elections in the past.

The BBC's Sola Odunfa in Lagos says there is also growing concern there could be a spate of assassinations.

The most prominent recent killing was that of the ruling party candidate for governor in Lagos state, Funsho Williams.

Our correspondent says the states most vulnerable to pre-election violence are those where the incumbent governors are seeking re-election and any opposition from either within or outside their parties is not tolerated.

The elections could mark the first successful democratic transfer of power from one civilian president to another since Nigerian independence in 1960.

President Olusegun Obasanjo will have served two terms, the maximum allowed under the constitution, since being elected in 1999.


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