•Says establishment of State Police’ll curb banditry
•It’s a failure of govt —Afenifere
By Dayo Johnson & Dapo Akinrefon
CHAIRMAN of the Southern Governors’ Forum, Rotimi Akeredolu, yesterday, said that the directive by the Zamfara State government to citizens to arm themselves for self-defence “confirms the pervasive loss of confidence in the current security arrangement of the country.”
Akeredolu, in a statement by his Aide on Special Duties and Strategy, Dr. Doyin Odebowale, insisted that the establishment of State Police remains the panacea to tackling the worsening insecurity in Nigeria.
The governor said: “It signals a situation of near-capitulation on the part of the security agencies centrally controlled by the Federal Government. It portends great danger for the polity.
“It is a sad commentary on the increasing inability and impotence of the Zamfara State government, and other states, to protect their citizens, in the wake of relentless and mindless assaults by terrorists and bandits.
“It suggests a total lack of trust between that state government and the Federal Government on one hand, and the helpless and hopeless situation in which the people have found themselves concerning the security of lives, on the other.
“The stark reality confronting the people of Zamfara leaves the government with no esoteric option but to lean heavily on the current arrangement.
“The Government and the people of Zamfara State have been pushed to the wall. The feeling of despondency is pervasive in the land. We must, however, advise caution.
“The directive of the State Governor to the Commissioner of Police to issue licenses to qualified citizens to bear arms in the defence of their immediate environments and the State, in general, is commendable.
“But the National Security Adviser and Inspector-General of Police may have to issue a license to possess a certain category of arms. No such licenses have been issued to individuals since 2007, while those which existed had been revoked.
“Therefore, this directive, attractive and compelling in the current circumstances, may be stifled by existing federal arrangements.
“The Governor of Ondo State, Mr Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, commends the boldness of his brother Governor, Bello Matawalle, in his bid to confront the security challenges in his State, adopting a pragmatic approach.
“The Governor notes, with great concern, the continued refusal by the Federal Government to grant licenses to security outfits, run by some States, to bear sophisticated firearms capable of restraining, effectively, acts of criminality and brazen impunity with commensurate responses.
“The deliberate policy of the Federal Government to deny exigent regional security outfits the rights to bear firearms, when it is evident that the security agencies in the country are overwhelmed and distracted by centrifugal forces, is a major factor, among many, exacerbating the current security challenges in the country.
“A federal system of government cannot be administered as if the country is a unitary colony, controlled, rigidly, at the centre, while the constituent units are treated as mere outposts.
“This fact, coupled with the logic of divergence and rapid population growth, imposes no other practicable measures on the managers of this country, including our legislators, than to accept the inevitability of the establishment of a State Police.”
It’s a failure of govt —Afenifere
But the pan Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, disagreed with the directive by the Zamfara government, saying it is an open declaration of failure on the part of the government.
It also urged the federal and state governments as well as security agencies to put a halt to the hike in insecurity breaches in the country to prevent the establishment of camps for the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, in the south.
Afenifere, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Jare Ajayi, observed that the spate of attacks on communities and individuals in the South has escalated.
Ajayi said: “From all indications, state governors have a lot of clouts because the Constitution invests them with a lot of powers. They should, as chief security officers of their respective states, impress it on the powers that be in Abuja that the country is now at such a serious crossroads security-wise that they must be allowed to take the bull by the horn. They can do this by having state police.
“Reports of armed attacks on communities, religious places, farmlands and sometimes homes occur almost every week if not daily in different parts of the country. Such used to be restricted to the north, north-east especially. But today, it has spread even to the South which used to be safe.
“The situation had reached such a height that Zamfara state government, joining its Katsina State counterpart, asked residents of the state to ‘buy guns to defend themselves against terrorists who are making life difficult for them.
“Afenifere decries the step taken by Zamfara State government. Asking everyone to carry a gun is not the solution to the problem.”