By Kingsley Omonobi, Peter Duru & Luminous Jannamike
Following the directive by Zamfara State government to citizens of the state to bear arms to defend themselves against unstoppable banditry and terrorist’s attacks, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, yesterday asked Attorney General of the Federation to tell Nigerians if the state governor, Bello Matawalle, has the powers to give such order.
He also insisted that only the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces had the constitutional powers to give directives to the armed forces as an instrument of policy implementation.
The CDS pointed out that already, there were actions members of the security agencies, including the armed forces, police and other security agencies, were taking to address insecurity in Zamfara and environs.
Speaking at the opening of a joint exercise for the National Defence College and War Colleges of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, code named “Exercise Grand Nationale,” in Abuja, Irabor said the directive to citizens was not right, as the armed forces and other security agencies were there to handle the challenges.
Reiterating that he was yet to understand the basis for asking the citizens of Zamfara to bear arms, the CDS said: “It was the responsibility of the Attorney General of the Federation to look at the constitution and the laws to see whether the governor had such powers.
“I believe that, in my view, 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 are available for him to bring greater peace and security.
“But like I said, I do not intend to say much about it, but I believe the Federal Government, using the Attorney General, will look at the details of that press release and give further instruction.
“If what I read is true, I do not also think the governor has the power to instruct the commissioner of police to issue licenses, because the commissioner of police does not have the powers to issue licenses.”
He disclosed that the armed forces was only an instrument of policy implementation, which do not take instructions from state governments, adding that the constitution gave such rights and powers only to the Commander-in-Chief for the use of the armed forces.
“I believe that what we are doing in Zamfara and, of course, across the states of the federation, is in deference to the provisions of the constitution.
“So, we are there because we are there to give support to the civil authority, in this case, the police. We do not need to restate what the issues are that have led to the deployment of the military across the country, but then, like I said, we are doing the very best to ensure that peace returns to every part of the country,” the CDS said.
We’ve no govt in Nigeria anymore; country on auto pilot —MBF
Reacting to the Zamfara government’s call for self-defence yesterday, the Middle Belt Forum, MBF, said the directive was an indication that Nigeria has no government anymore.
The National President of MBF, Dr. Bitrus Pogu, said yesterday in Makurdi that the directive was a precursor to what would happen in other parts of the country since Nigeria had fallen apart and the people were left with no other choice but to resort to self help.
Hear him: “The directive by the Zamfara state government that the people should get arms and defend themselves simply means that we have totally lost it. The country is on autopilot, we do not have a government anymore; because we have all reached the state of self help.
“Nobody depends on the security forces anymore to defend anybody. They know where the bandits, insurgents and terrorist are and they are not doing anything.
“Of course, what else can a leader say. Let’s not even call him Governor, he is a leader, and as a leader he has given up on governance. And the best thing is forget about the constitutional provisions for protection from government and let’s just defend ourselves.
“The country has fallen apart and it just indicates that we are on our own. So it has started in Zamfara, it means the same everywhere. The Zamfara situation is just a precursor to what is going to happen in the country, total anarchy, it’s unfortunate.”
Nothing new about Zamfara govt’s call on itizens —CAN
On its part, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, said the call by Zamfara State government on citizens to get guns and defend themselves was not new.
It stated that the failure of government to provide security had made the people conscious of the need to develop their private security plans long ago.
The CAN Chairman, Kaduna State Chapter, Rev. John Hayab, said this in an exclusive chat with Vanguard in Abuja on Monday.“He was reacting to the appeal of the Zamfara State Government for residents of the state to ‘obtain guns to defend themselves against terrorists attacking defenceless civilians in their domains.
He said CAN was not oblivious of the precarious security situation in the country, noting that the Zamfara government’s call was merely an alert for citizens to continue to act proactively.
Hayab said, “The call by Zamfara state Governor is not new to us. The Governor of Katsina State and others made similar statement some months ago.
“Every day people are being killed from North to South, West and the East with no tangible arrests being made. The killings going on unabated are serious. “Bandits that should be running are now going from house to house, community to community, one region to another region no which is safe for now. They are cruel to their victims.
“CAN believes that it is now obligatory for Nigerians not to wait for our sleeping leaders to protect us because they do not care. Everybody, therefore, should act wisely, and do what is right to defend himself, his family, his place of worship, and his community.
“What CAN and Nigerians want from the federal government and governor of Zamfara state and his colleagues is they should be honest with us and not send the police after innocent people who are only having weapons for self-defense.”