*Why we directed citizens to acquire guns – Matawalle
*No need for Imo citizens to bear arms—Gov Uzodimma
By Levinus Nwabughiogu & Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Abuja
AS the directive given by Zamfara State government to citizens of the state to acquire arms to defend themselves against bandits continued to generate reactions, the House of Representatives, yesterday, sought an urgent intervention of the Federal Government to urgently deploy troops to quell the attacks in the state.
The lawmakers took the position on a day Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State said he would not ask people of the state to take up arms and defend themselves, adding that the security situation in his state has not degenerated to the level of asking the citizens to bear arms to defend themselves.
This came as Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State has said the state government relied on an extant legislation to direct residents to acquire weapons to defend themselves.
Considering a motion under matters of urgent public importance presented by Suleiman Abubakar, representing Gummi/Bukkuyum federal constituency of the state at plenary, the House expressed worry over incessant banditry attacks on the people of Zamfara State.
In his motion, Abubakar said the situation had gone beyond the level of the local security and, therefore, required the intervention of the Federal Government.
According to him, the bandits impose levies on members of the communities and also ask for ransom from those they kidnapped.
Adopting the motion, the House called on the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management and Social Development and National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, to send relief materials to the affected communities.
No need for Imo citizens to bear arms — Uzodinma
Reacting to Governor Mattawale’s order in Zamfara State, Governor Uzodimma said he would not take a similar step, despite the security situation in the state, which has resulted in several deaths.
According to him, the security situation in his state has not degenerated to the level of asking the citizens to bear arms to defend themselves.
The governor also said the security situation in the state was under control, as citizens no longer obey the Monday sit-at-home order declared by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, in solidarity with Mazi Nnamdi Kanu who is on incarceration at the Department of State Service, DSS, facility in Abuja.
Speaking to State House correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Uzodimma said he got the approval of the President to host the Army Day celebration in the state, stressing that the measure would further improve the security of the state.
On the security situation in Imo, the governor said security agencies in Imo were on top of the situation.
On his meeting with the President, Uzodimma said: “Well, basically, I came to see Mr. President and to thank him for his gracious approval that Army Day celebration be held in Owerri, South East of the country.
On what the leaders of the South-East were doing over the negative effect of the sit-at-home order on businesses in the region as well as their alleged siddon look approach, the governor said there was no siddon-look in the South-East
He said: “Governors in the South-East are all working together to ensure that security is guaranteed for people to go about their businesses.
‘’The sit-at home order is not operational in Imo State, it is not working in Owerri and sometimes, some parts of the South-East where it’s still in operation, the governors are also working in synergy to ensure it becomes a thing of the past.”
On how concerned he was over the alleged deliberate attacks on Catholic priests by gunmen, the governor said: “Regrettably, of recent, some Catholic priests became victims to the banditry saga in Nigeria. I’m not aware that is deliberate because no report has said that.
“But I think it is an unfortunate incident which is condemnable here and everywhere. And it’s not as if other people being killed are not important but we as Catholics, condemn that. And we detest any form of violence or taking of lives.”
Why we directed citizens to acquire guns —Matawalle
A statement, yesterday ,by Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Jamilu Magaji, said the governor spoke while inaugurating some security committees in Gusau.
The statement explained that the governor’s directive was part of the administration’s efforts to tackle protracted security challenges in the state, noting that the state government was aware of the misgivings expressed in some quarters regarding the new measure.
The statement explained that the measure was meant “to encourage the communities suffering almost daily from the inhuman aggressions from the bandits to acquire firearms to defend their communities. Self-defence is a natural instinct and has always been part of human survival strategy.
“As those entrusted with the safety of lives and property of the people, we will do everything possible to uphold this responsibility within the ambit of the law.
“We are also aware that the security forces are doing their best to combat this formidable challenge.
“Their efforts are, however, hampered by the lack of adequate modern warfare equipment and the dearth of personnel. Our decision to mobilise people to secure their communities is, therefore, for the people to complement the efforts of the conventional security forces in dealing with banditry and fishing out informants.”
“The acquisition and usage of firearms by the public, who desire to do so, would be governed by the Nigeria Firearms Act.”
According to the statement, the state government had explored all options to address the issue to no avail, saying apart from dialogue, reconciliation and disarmament, the government also had regular engagement with Federal Government and neighbouring states, including the Nigerien authorities.
“We also shut down mobile telecommunication networks to give security forces the leeway to take the battle directly to the bandits,” the statement added.
The governor further said that his administration had provided modern RUGA settlement for nomads and logistics support to security agencies, including vehicles and drones.
He said that in recent weeks, the state witnessed increased attacks in some parts of Gusau, Bukkuyum and Gummi Local Government Areas.
Matawalle said that government had provided 20 new Hilux Vans and 1,500 motorcycles to the committee on security to commence operation.