The Presidency, this week, said that the federal government has not granted any state of the federation approval to authorise use of automatic weapons in a bid to arrest insecurity and protect lives and property.
This announcement was contained in a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity Mr Garba Shehu.
The announcement which, in a way, can serve as a clarification, was made barely 24 hours after Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo state said that his government would arm the security outfit, recently established by the states in the South-west Zone known as the Amotekun, with automatic weapons to secure Ondo state and its people.
However, the Nigerian Fire Arms Act (1990) provides that no person shall have in his possession or under his control any firearm or ammunition except such person has a license from the President or from the Inspector-General of Police.
It states further that no license or permit to carry fire arms should be granted to applicants under the age of 17, persons who are of unsound mind, persons not fit to have possession of the firearm in question on account of defective eyesight, persons of intemperate habits or anyone who has during the previous five years been convicted of an offence involving violence or the threat of violence.
Except for licensed fire arm dealers in Nigeria, it is unlawful for anyone to buy or sell fire arms or ammunitions.
On the use of AK-47, the Presidency said: “Under the existing regulations, only the Office of the National Security Adviser can issue such authorization, upon proper clearance by the President and Commander-in-Chief and as it is at this moment, no such approvals have been issued to any state government.”
It was, of course, on the basis of the law that the Presidency made the clarification in the statement it issued.
While Akerelodu has threatened to arm Amotekun, the governor is not the first to issue such advisory in the face of serious security threats Nigerians face.
The Zamfara State Government, in a statement issued by the Commissioner for Information Mr Ibrahim Dosara, asked residents of the state to obtain guns to defend themselves against terrorists attacking weaponless civilians in the state for the past few years.
Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina had earlier called on residents of the state to arm themselves against the gunmen.
Zamfara and Katsina states are two of the states most affected by the activities of terrorists, locally called bandits, whose actions have led to the deaths of hundreds of people, destruction of property worth billions and kidnap of thousands of others.
Following increase in the activities of bandits in some parts of the states and the governments’ commitment to ensure adequate security and protection of lives and property of the citizenry, the governors resolved to take further drastic measures to arm the citizens in order to deal with the bandits escalating attacks, kidnapping and the criminal levies being enforced on innocent communities.
Speaking in the same vein with his colleagues, the Chairman of the South-west Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ondo State, Mr Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, recently, said that the region’s Security Network Agency, codenamed ‘Amotekun’, must be allowed to bear appropriate tools and weapons to curb marauders committing crimes against humanity.
Akeredolu said that the incontestable authority of the state must be imposed in the country, which was being threatened by brazen conflict entrepreneurs as well as armed and audacious non-state actors.
According to Akerodolu, states security outfits, backed by law, whether in western Nigeria, Katsina, Borno, Benue, Zamfara or any northern state, must have access to the same sophisticated weapons that the bandits had.
He said that his administration would continue to support the operational capacity of all security agencies in the state, both in terms of equipment and the welfare of their personnel.
Of course, right or wrong, like the states in the South-west, others in the northern part of the country have also, each, established a security outfit to deal with insecurity situations threatening their development.
Thus, like Masari and Zamfara’s Matawalle, like Akeredolu, the call from the governors is the same. From the North to South and East to West of Nigeria, the situation in the states and zones is the same. Insecurity threatens all! Clearly, the current internal security architecture in the country needs to be quickly changed or modified.
Every means, including the use of force, which is an option that has gained support from the authorities, must be employed to end the state of insecurity in Nigeria.
However, the use of force, regardless of its efficacy, should not be seen as the only strategy to fight insecurity. In fact, successes achieved through the use of force should be seen as temporary and not durable.
Thus, to achieve lasting and durable successes, the federal, state and local governments should consider seriously fighting corruption among their officials, creating jobs, increasing standards of living, enhancing their economy and developing their infrastructure.
In fact, it is only by prioritising the above suggestions that Nigeria and Nigerians can only truly enjoy peace and tranquility and development.
Of course, law perverts should be arrested and, thank God, the Presidency has said that the law enforcement agencies have been given clear directives to deal with any such outlaws.
For continuation of freedom of speech, robust political discourse
President Muhammadu Buhari, this week, said that his administration will continue to encourage citizens’ participation in the nation’s democratic process through enjoyment of freedom of speech and robust political discourse.
The President said Nigerians should have respect for divergent cultures and opinions and uphold the principle of unity of the country.
He spoke when he received the Letters of Credence from some ambassadors and high commissioners from six countries.
The President told the diplomats that Nigeria’s strength remains in its diversity and the constant differences in positions further signpost a strong democratic culture.
According to him, the rich cultural diversities in Nigeria have the capacity to bring about the much needed national development in the country.
The ambassadors and high commissioners of Republic of India, Mr Gangadharan Balasubramanian, Germany, Mrs Annett Gunther, Sudan, Mr Mohamed Yousif Ibrahim Abdelmannan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mrs Gerengbo Yakivu Pascaline, State of Palestine, Abdullah M.A. Abu Shawesh and The Kingdom of Netherlands, Mr Willem Wouter Plomp, presented their letters of credence to president.
However, the nation’s diversities, as important as they are in the process of nation-building, must not be taken for granted by anyone, especially leaders. Instead, as Nigerians, particularly our leaders, we should be conscious and deliberate in our programmatic actions in mainstreaming culture across our development efforts.
We need to build a national culture which specifically targets our national peace and development. While violent actors are trying to create disorder using our diversities, we must, through our works, use our God-given diversities to promote peace and national development.
This can be done as suggested by the Director-General of the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Dr Bakut Tswah Bakut, through “popularising several works of music, art and craft that directly speak to peace and national development in our society.” Bakut also suggested that our cultural diversities should be harnessed for our common good for it to translate to national development.
Sadly, the current levels of inequality, corruption and mediocrity in the country cannot provide a culture of peace needed to promote and champion national development.
On the other hand, what we have now can only incrementally lead to disenchantment among Nigerians and deterioration of the nation’s security architecture and socio-economic state. The Buhari-led administration should, therefore, reverse the country’s ugly trends and build a society where peace and justice shall reign for all.