Nigeria state governor orders police commissioner to start issuing firearm licences
In a desperate bid to the nip the uptick in kidnapping and murder by bandits in Nigeria, Zamfara state governor Bello Matawalle of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ordered the state police commissioner CP Ayuba N. Elkanah to start issuing gun licences on Sunday.
Insecurity has increased since the election of Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress(APC) in 2015. Armed gangs are now rife across Nigeria where they rob or kidnap for ransom, and where ill equipped and undermanned forces often fail to stop the attacks. Nigeria with a population of 200 million only has half a million men and women under arms for protection.
“The state governor had directed the state police commissioner to issue 500 gun licences in each of the 19 emirates in the state to those wishing to defend themselves.” Ibrahim Magaji Dosara, Zamfara commissioner for information said.
“Government is ready to facilitate people, especially our farmers to secure basic weapons for defending themselves,” he added.
Armed bandits on motorbikes operating from isolated forest areas in parts of Nigeria often terrorise villagers and transport networks. Killing, raping, kidnapping and demanding for ransom with the ill equipped and undermanned security forces unable to cope with the upsurge in violence.
Under the constitution only the governor and the police commissioner can issue gun licences. Just recently scores of people were killed in suspected bandit attacks on churches in Kaduna and Ondo states. Analysts expect violence to peak as the country approaches the 2023 General Elections.
Zamfara will recruit additional local volunteers known as vigilantes across the state to help fight the bandits while the state will also set up a new civil defence unit commanded by a retired police commissioner the commissioner of information confirmed in a statement.
The state has also banned motorbikes popularly called okada from operating in several emirates. Security forces have been given shoot to kill orders.
“Anybody found riding motorbike within the areas is considered as bandits and security agencies are thereby directed to shoot such persons at sight,” said Dosara.
Zamfara is now the first state in Nigeria to publicly announce the arming of citizenry.