THE call by Governor of Katsina State, Aminu Bello Masari, for residents of the state to take up arms and fight back against the rampaging “bandits” is not new.
Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom and that of Taraba State, Darius Ishaku, had earlier made the same call after federal-controlled armed forces, police and other security agencies, failed to protect the citizens from the marauding militias that have been killing, destroying farms, burning down communities, kidnapping for ransom and raping.
Even the Minister of Defence, retired Major General Bashir Magashi, had in February this year, told Nigerians to rise to their self-defence. A former Chief of Army Staff and Defence Minister, T.Y. Danjuma, was the first to make that call in March 2018.
The unique thing in Masari’s involvement in this call is that he is the governor of President Muhammadu Buhari’s home state. If our security agencies are capable of defending Nigerians, surely, Katsina should have nothing to complain about. But the state is one of the most terrorised in the country. The bandits had even once abducted an in-law of the president in Daura, Umar Musa.
Masari has done everything in his power to contain the terrorists, including paying them and leading officials of his government to dialogue with their leaders in their hideout. He has even offered them amnesty, yet they have offered no respite to the people of the state. The call to arms is obviously an expression of total frustration.
Already, the various cultural and geopolitical interest groups, such as Ohanaeze, Afenifere, Middle Belt Leaders Forum, MBLF, and even the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, which used to vehemently oppose the idea, have thrown their weights behind the call.
If every group takes up arms to fight those terrorising them, is that the solution? Will that not pave the way to anarchy? Is that not what the IPOB’s Eastern Security Network, ESN, is doing for which they are being hunted by the military, police and security agencies and dubbed “terrorists” by the regime and its supporters?
Yet, there seems to be no other way out in the face of the relentless and implacable onslaughts by these agents of darkness operating as Boko Haram in the North East, bandits in the North West and Fulani militias in the Middle Belt and the three Southern geopolitical zones.
Self-defence is the first law of nature. It is a natural right. Since the call for a decentralisation of the security architecture has fallen on deaf ears, perhaps it is time to explore how Nigerians can defend themselves without reducing Nigeria to a minefield of warlords. We still have a period of grace to allow states and communities to be able to defend themselves under the law and in partnership with conventional state agencies. Let’s not wait until it is too late.