You’re Inviting Disaster – Military Rebukes Zamfara Gov For Asking Residents To Bear Arms Against Bandits

The military has faulted a directive by the Zamfara State Government asking residents to take up arms against bandits in the state.

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Governor Bello Matawalle had issued the directive at the weekend while asking the state’s commissioner of police to “issue (gun) licenses” to qualified persons who wish to defend themselves against the bandits.

Matawalle’s directive, contained in a statement by the state’s commissioner for information, Ibrahim Dosara, is similar to the one issued by Katsina State residents by Governor Aminu Masari over the activities of bandits in the state.

But reacting on Monday, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Lucky Irabor, said the Zamfara Governor lacks the powers to issue such directive to residents.

While noting that it is the responsibility of the Attorney General of the Federation to interpret the constitution and the laws, Irabor said “I do not also think that the governor has the power to instruct the commissioner of police to issue licenses, because the commissioner of police does not have the powers to issue licenses.”

Similarly, former Army spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Sani Usman (rtd), condemned Matawalle’s directive during an Arise TV interview monitored by THE WHISTLER on Monday.

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He said, “The security policy directive left so much questions than answers for quite a number of reasons

“First and foremost, I think the most persistent one is the issue of calling on Zamfara State citizens to arm themselves against the bandits and kidnappers.

“I am not a legal expert but with my little knowledge of the law, I think this issue is a recipe for disaster for quite a number of reasons. One, the governor said that the commissioner of police will issue licence. When you look at the powers of the state commissioner of police to issue a lincence, I think it is just Dane guns and you know that the kidnappers and bandits have graduated from AK-47 to more sophisticated weapons like rocket-propelled grenades and the rest.

“So, not even the Inspector-General of Police has the powers to issue an AK-47 rifle which is the primary weapon the bandits use. So, automatically it would not serve the purpose if you ask them (residents) to be armed with lesser weapons. You know, it’s just like somebody confronting you with an AK-47 and you’re using a catapult against such persons.

“Secondly, now that the political atmosphere is fully charged, in the next two months or thereabouts, campaigns for the general election will go into full swing and with so many arms and ammunition in the hands of individuals, you can understand that it may be hijacked. And we know that there are various remote and immediate causes of the issues of security in Zamfara State and one of them is the political issue.

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Brigadier-General-Sani-Usman
Brigadier General Sani Usman (rtd)

“We know how it started in Dan Sadau and other parts of the country and the fact that the then governor…they (bandits) were so determined to remove him from power and some of these individuals were armed. So, how do we know that we would not go back to the factors that brought about these security challenges?

“You see, the problem is that we tend to militarize all these issues. We know that the causes of these insecurity challenges to a large extent behoove on the issue of governance. We know the level of poverty in the northern part of the country, we know the level of illiteracy and the level of unemployment.

“And if we talk about (the residents) arming themselves, now an average AK-47, depending on where you buy it, goes for as much as N1 million. Given the level of poverty, how many citizens of Zamfara State can afford an AK-47? And again, the Federal Government has established the small and light arms control centre, now we are battling with the fact that proliferation of small and medium arms circulating in this country, we are trying to mitigate that and now you’re trying to compound the problem.”

Sani further said that the Zamfara State government must think outside to find solutions to the security challenges bedeviling the state.

“So, we should be thinking out of the box, go to the root causes of these problems. Yes, the solution may be one of several others. Zamfara State is blessed with enough experienced and credible human resources that have made their marks in security and intelligence gathering in this country.”

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