In spite of the reservation by Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Lucky Irabor, Zamfara State Governor Bello Matawalle says there is no going back on his directive to Zamfara State residents to acquire arms and defend themselves against bandits.
Yesterday, he went a step further by inaugurating four committees to implement all strategies designed out by his administration to counter banditry and restore peace to the state.
The committees are Intelligence Gathering on Banditry, Community Protection Guards (CPG), Prosecution of Banditry-Related Offences and State Security Standing Panel.
Mattawale donated 20 new Toyota Hilux vans and 1,500 motorbikes to enable the members to commence operations.
Making a veiled reference to Irabor’s opposition to his order, the governor said that as a government that swore to an oath to protect its citizens,” we will do everything possible to uphold this responsibility within the ambit of the law.”
“We are aware of misgivings expressed in some quarters regarding the new measures, particularly the decision to encourage members of the communities suffering almost daily from the inhumane aggressions of the bandits to acquire firearms to defend their communities,” the governor said in a statement by his Press Secretary, Jamilu Magaji.
He assured that “the acquisition and usage of firearms by members of the general public who desire to do so would be governed by the Nigeria Firearms Act.”
Stating that his administration t was not oblivious of the desire of security agencies to contain the activities of bandits, he said that “their efforts are hampered by lack of adequate modern warfare equipment and shortage of personnel.”
Matawalle explained that his government’s decision to “mobilise people to secure their communities is to complement the efforts of the conventional security forces in dealing with banditry and fishing out informants.”
Matawalle said workable options considered to address banditry and related crimes in the state included dialogue, reconciliation and disarmament, regular engagements with the Federal Government, collaboration with the neighbouring states and the authorities of the Niger Republic and shutting down of mobile telecommunication networks.
He added that his administration had provided a settlement popularly known as RUGA for nomads and logistics for security agencies.
Matawalle’s counterpart in Imo State, Hope Uzodimma, however, believes the security situation in his troubled state does not warrant asking residents to acquire arms for self-defence.
“But I don’t think there is a need for unauthorised people to carry arms in Imo State because the situation in Imo State currently is being managed and we’ve seen relative peace for the past weeks in the state and the normal businesses, incrementally, have resumed,” Uzodimma told reporters after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja.
Pointing out that the situation in Zamfara State was not the same in Imo State, he said that Matawalle would “only give licences to a qualified and eligible candidates provided he’s the approving authority.”
Uzodinma also said the 10-day grace he granted criminal elements to turn a new leaf had started yielding positive results.
Asked to react to his aide who recently resigned and accused him of running a non-inclusive and undemocratic government, he replied:” If the way things are going to the best of their own idiosyncrasies is not consistent with the thought process, it means that they are licensed to try their luck in another place.”
Uzodinma disclosed to the reporters that Buhari approved the hosting of Army Day in Imo. State.
The governor also denounced the attacks on Catholic clerics as unfortunate.