The Presidency Tuesday said the federal government has not granted any state of the federation approval for authorisation for automatic weapons.
This was contained in a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu.
The comment by the Presidency is coming barely 24 hours after the Ondo state Governor Rotimi Akeredolu said the Ondo state government would arm its security outfit, Amotekun, with automatic weapons to secure the state.
What Akeredolu said
The governor had, while speaking recently at the passing-out-parade of Courses 3 and 4 of the State Amotekun Corps in Akure, said: “State Security outfits backed by law whether in Western Nigeria, Katsina, Borno, Benue or any Northern state must have access to the same sophisticated weapons that the marauders have. Anything else is a contradiction in terms.
“It is evident that the current internal security framework in the country is ineffectual. The response of the subnationals by setting up their outfits is welcome, necessary, and has become indispensable.
“Everyone must be given the same access to outgun the criminals. Without uniformity nationwide, the threat to the cohesion of the state will continue.
“The fight back against marauders committing crimes against humanity must allow subnational and regional authorities to have the tools, the most sophisticated weapons available which the marauders already have in abundance.
“Without providing the sub-national security forces to be a counter-balancing force we have a crisis which strikes at the heart of the conception and the definition of the state itself.”
But in a reply, the Presidency said the federal government never gave approval to any state to have automatic weapons.
The statement reads: “The Presidency wishes to strongly assert that there is no state, not Katsina, not any other state in the federation, that has been authorized to procure automatic weapons for their security outfits.
“Under this administration, the President has repeatedly made it clear that nobody is allowed to illegally carry AK-47 or any other automatic weapons and that they must surrender them.
“Where they fail to do so, the law enforcement agencies have been given clear directives to deal with any such outlaws.
“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.
“In the specific Katsina State often cited, the Governor, Aminu Bello Masari wrote to explain that the administration invited the Provost of the Civil Defence Training College in Katsina to train their Vigilantes for a five-day period “in the handling and operations of Pump Action Rifles,” emphasizing that “the Vigilantes were not trained to take over the responsibilities of the security agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria but to assist them.”
“The Presidency appreciates the active involvement of states with security matters. As they continue to expand their capabilities as well as their active collaboration with law enforcement agencies of the federation, the joint efforts continue to yield good results, thwarting attempts of terrorists to wreak havoc and destruction on communities.
“The President in particular has expressed happiness that in the last couple of years, security outfits mandated by state governments have been associated with several important initiatives, and reports have reached him of acts of utmost bravery and professionalism.
“He thanks them for their alertness that is helping to defeat nefarious plots against targets at grassroots levels.
“He, however, cautions against the politicization of security. Government at the centre with a national mandate cannot afford to alienate Ondo State or any other state for that matter on the important issue of security and urges leaders at various levels to exercise restraint in their speech, even as we are in a political season.”