The Presidency has said there is no state that has been authorised to procure automatic weapons for their security outfits. The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said this in a statement issued on Tuesday. He said the President had repeatedly made it clear that nobody is allowed to illegally carry AK-47 or any other automatic weapons and that they must surrender them. “Where they fail to do so, the law enforcement agencies have been given clear directives to deal with any such outlaws,” he added.
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State had on September 22 criticised the federal government’s opposition to the proposed use of arms by the Western Nigeria Security Network (Amotekun Corps) while allowing its equivalent in Katsina state to bear weapons. On Monday, the governor expressed his commitment to equipping Amotekun for the effective operation of the corps in securing the lives and property of the people of the region. He said the denial of the right of Amotekun to bear arms to protect the people of the state violated the tenets of federalism.
But in a swift reaction on Tuesday, the Presidency said under the existing regulations, only the Office of the National Security Adviser could issue such authorisation, upon proper clearance by the President and Commander-in-Chief, adding that “as it is at this moment, no such approvals have been issued to any state government.”
The presidential spokesman said: “In the specific Katsina State often cited, the Governor, Aminu Bello Masari wrote to explain that the administration invited the Provost of the Civil Defence Training College in Katsina to train their Vigilantes for a five-day period ‘in the handling and operations of Pump Action Rifles,’ emphasising that ‘the Vigilantes were not trained to take over the responsibilities of the security agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria but to assist them.’
The Presidency appreciates the active involvement of states with security matters. “As they continue to expand their capabilities as well as their active collaboration with law enforcement agencies of the federation, the joint efforts continue to yield good results, thwarting attempts of terrorists to wreak havoc and destruction on communities.
“The President in particular has expressed happiness that in the last couple of years, security outfits mandated by state governments have been associated with several important initiatives, and reports have reached him of acts of utmost bravery and professionalism. “He thanks them for their alertness that is helping to defeat nefarious plots against targets at grassroots levels. Government at the centre with a national mandate cannot afford to alienate Ondo State or any other state for that matter on the important issue of security and urges leaders at various levels to exercise restraint in their speech, even as we are in a political season.”