NIGERIA’S chief of defence staff General Lucky Irabor has faulted the recent call by Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State instructing citizens to carry arms in response to growing banditry saying the armed forces are the only ones authorised to do such.
Over recent years, Zamfara State has been plagued by the activities of heavily-armed bandits who have held the area to ransom. They ransack local villages and kidnap people willy nilly, forcing their families to cough up huge sums as ransom fees and the overwhelmed security forces just look on helplessly.
Last year, Islamic cleric Sheikh Abubakar Gumi visited these bandits in the Zamfara forests and afterwards asked the government to grant them an amnesty. However, no settlement has been reached and their murderous activities continue, prompting Governor Matawalle to ask local citizens to arm themselves and fight back.
However, speaking yesterday at the opening of the joint exercise for the National Defence College and War Colleges of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, code-named Exercise Grand Nationale, in Abuja, General Irabor noted that the call was not right. He added that the Nigerian armed forces and other security agencies are there to handle such challenges.
General Irabor stated that he was yet to understand the basis for asking the citizens of Zamfara State to bear arms. He emphasised that it is the responsibility of the attorney-general of the federation to look at the constitution and the laws to see whether the governor has such powers.
“I believe that it is not the right way to go. Of course, there are actions that members of the security agencies and the armed forces, in particular, the police and other security agencies, are doing to address insecurity in Zamfara and environs.
“Beyond that, of course, there are other legal issues. Other issues of governance, issues that the government could have addressed using the instrumentality of the law that is available for them to bring greater peace and security,” General Irabor added.