The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) has commended Governor Muhammad Bello Matawalle of Zamfara state for authorising the use of firearms by citizens of the state in protecting themselves against attacks by bandits, saying the position of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) on self-defence should be rejected.
In a statement made available to this medium on Thursday, signed by the Director of Strategic Communication, CNG, Samaila Musa, the coalition said that it has been vindicated as Matawalle’s directive, no matter how belated, “is aimed at involving and directly engaging communities in protecting, preserving, and defending their lives and livelihoods against marauding terrorist-bandits that are terrorising and pillaging our communities with little or no requited force.”
The statement reads: “The Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) views the recent policy for authorisation for use of firearms by citizens of Zamfara State for self-defence by Governor Muhammad Bello Matawalle with mixed interest.
“We note that the effort by the Zamfara State Government is aimed at involving and directly engaging communities in protecting, preserving, and defending their lives and livelihoods against marauding terrorist-bandits that are terrorising and pillaging our communities with little or no requited force.
“While CNG is delighted that some of its positions are being recognised and accepted in tackling the security challenge in the North; it is however frowning at certain efforts that try to maintain the status quo without genuine commitment to ending the bloodbath across the North.
“CNG wishes to remind Nigerians that it has been advocating community mobilisation, engagement and participation in addressing the insecurity in the northern Nigeria in particular and the country as a whole.
“On this note, about two years ago, the CNG advised Northern Governors and even forwarded an to the Northern leadership on how to utilise community based influence for defence against any external violent aggression with the support of Government security apparatus.
“We therefore commend Governor Matawalle for recognising this approach although belatedly. We have equally keenly observed reactions from individuals and groups across the country with a particular concern with the position of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) who faulted the authorisation for self-defence. We reject his rejection of self-defence! Self-preservation and defence are natural, inalienable and fundamental that cannot be denied.
“We wish to remind the CDS that even his principal, Minister of Defence, has once called for self-defence amidst incessant killings by terrorists in Nigeria. The CDS himself told Nigerians that many personnel of the armed forces were facing court-martial for conniving with the kidnappers, bandits, terrorists and other criminals.
“There are allegations of compromise within the security architecture of the country including the military that the CDS himself was reported to have said that some soldiers and officers are already “disgruntled and unmotivated with divided loyalty” hence their inability to protect our people adequately and save our lives.
“We challenge the CDS to explain to Nigerians how many personnel, armoured tanks and other necessary weaponry did he supply to the war theatre in Zamfara and other conflict ridden areas. Amotekun, a fully armed security outfit, is operating in Southern Nigeria without a word from him.
“Just a few days ago 69 communities in Bukuyum Local Government of Zamfara State have been ransacked and terrorised. Where was the CDS? The perennial and overwhelming nature of the existential security threat on Nigeria is beyond the soldiers alone to handle; hence all hands must be on deck! With the escalating attacks, kidnapping and criminal levies on our communities, what strategy does he have to end the violent activities that is yet to apply?
“We therefore state categorically that communities and people must be brought in to the security efforts and strategies in their communities for any meaningful impact to be achieved because excluding people does not proffer solution as we currently observe.
“It is high time that the CNG’s suggestions that a security taskforce modelled after Civilian-JTF called “Arewa Security Taskforce” should be revisited. Highly reputable and disciplined retired northern security officers in collaboration with traditional institutions and security operatives can work with localities.
“The localities should engage, train and deploy youths in their local communities to protect their villages, towns and cities. The taskforce will have rule of engagement, vehicles, uniform, weaponry and other needs for its operation.
“CNG has, in its possession, a comprehensive, systematic and verifiable programme structure on how the taskforce can be created, organised and executed which can be made available to the northern leaders for adoption, subject to ratification by security experts.
“We reiterate our call to Northern Governors and Traditional Leaders to join hands with willing citizens to protect and secure their communities, towns and villages from bloodthirsty killers. It is a must duty because of the sanctity of human lives. CNG remains committed to working with, guiding and advising all interested leaders in addressing this perennial security problem in the north and the country.”