Self defence: Arewa elders back Matawalle, task North West governors on vigilante groups 

A Northern elders group has supported the call by Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara state to allow residents carry arms to protect themselves in the face of incessant attacks by terrorists in the North West region. 

Speaking under the aegis of Arewa Development Forum for Peace and Justice, the elders rising from a crucial meeting in Kaduna tasked Governors in the region to form Joint Task Force of youths as community-based vigilante volunteer groups akin to the Community Protection Guard (CPG) launched in Zamfara on Saturday, to complement the efforts of security agencies in the fight against criminal activities in the various states. 

According to a statement signed by its Executive Chairman, Alhaji Zubairu Mustafa on Sunday, the elders “faulted negative reaction over the suggestion of Zamfara state Governor and bemoans the hurried comments by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor and other elites, who are economical with the truth of happening on the recent kidnappings, killings and attacks of communities in Northwest region and environs by suspected bandits.

“Few days ago, terrorists invaded a mining site in Shiroro local government of Niger state killing about 17 security agents including soldiers, police and local vigilantes, and abducting four Chinese expatriates. This was coming a few days after reports of alleged attacks and kidnap of many people in some villages in Kaduna, Kebbi, Niger, Katsina, Zamfara and Sokoto states unabated.

“This multifaceted crime against Nigerians has continued to thrive without any serious strategies in place to end the challenge by the security operatives, instead, we are awash with news from some high-ranking security officers and elites that they are not in support of public bearing arms for protection. These groups of Nigerians are openly frustrating the efforts by the government of Zamfara state towards empowering communities to acquire and carry arms legally to protect themselves against the rampaging invading terrorists.”

He said last Thursday, the Catholic Archbishop of Kaduna Diocese, Most Rev Mattew Man-Oso Ndagoso, at the funeral for a slain priest in Kaduna, supported Governor Bello Matawalle’s call for allowing citizens to carry arms legally to protect themselves against the bandits, after supporting similar calls by Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina state, as the only way to complement what the military and police are doing in the fight against terrorists in the region.

“For those saying it’s not right and disastrous if citizens protect themselves in self-defence against these bandits, then who is supporting or licensing those invading bandits to continue maiming and killings by using AK-47 and other dangerous weapons in our region? Our leaders must act now or we continue to be a target of elimination by minority marauders going about with weapons against the majority. 

“If government refused to act now, they should know that when people are frustrated, they will look for the best option to arm themselves because government cannot protect them against the incessant killings and destructions of their villages,” the elders said. 

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