FOR the second time in quick succession, President Muhammadu Buhari mandated the armed forces and security agencies to implement his shoot-on-sight order against anyone found “illegally” with AK-47.
He restated this on March 11, 2021 at a meeting attended by the National Security Adviser, retired Major General Babagana Monguno; Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu; Director General of the Department of State Services, Yusuf Bichi and the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Abubakar. Also in attendance were the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar (III) and the Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi.
Many Nigerians were surprised by this order because it is coming almost six years into the life of the Buhari administration when strange elements have been roaming the countryside, using their assault rifles to attack indigenous communities and taking over their lands almost unchallenged.
Justifying this order, the Commander-in-Chief declared: “What surprises is what is happening now in the North West where the same people, with the same culture, are killing each other, taking their livestock and burning properties… One thing that got to the press which I read myself was that anyone with an AK-47 will be shot. This is because AK-47 is supposed to be registered and it is only given to security officials”.
This order is fraught with a number of issues. For one, AK-47 is not the only assault rifle in use by hoodlums, bandits, herdsmen terrorists and vigilantes. This order should apply for all illegal arms, and the only way to ascertain this is through the constitutionally-mandated law enforcement procedure governed by rules of engagement. Law enforcement must be maintained through constitutional, not militaristic or extrajudicial methods.
It is unfortunate that the armed forces, security and uniformed agencies sat on their palms while the national landscape was being flooded by these strange elements. Many of them are foreigners acting with their indigenous cohorts. Our security woes are worsening because our security architecture is not configured to protect the people, and must be corrected.
It had variously been alleged that many of these armed hoodlums were either assembled and armed by power-hungry politicians or permitted by unpatriotic leaders to infiltrate the country unchallenged by our law-enforcement agencies. It is like the proverbial Frankenstein’s monster which went out of control and is now threatening its master.
We hope the security and military agencies are now ready to do their jobs. They will need to block the arms inflows at the borders and conduct systematic mop-up exercises that will hopefully remove the armed hoodlums from our forests, communities and highways.
To succeed, they must enlist the support of the people in every locality. And it must be devoid of ethnic agenda for the people to buy into it.