A former Military Governor of Kaduna State, Col. Abubakar Dangiwa Umar (rtd), has frowned at the recent directive by the Zamfara State government urging citizens to obtain guns to defend themselves against bandits and kidnappers.
The Zamfara State government had also directed the commissioner of police in the state to issue licenses to individuals qualified and wishing to obtain guns to defend themselves.
However, Col Umar said even though he understands the frustration of governors in the North West in tackling insecurity, there is no reason for governors to “sit in their state capitals and issue orders that citizens should take up guns.”
He said the directive will only escalate the problem and transfer guns to the hands of criminals.
“Some citizens may buy guns not to fight bandits and kidnappers but to be used also to commit crime. So, the latent dysfunction of this is that guns will fall into the wrong hands; guns that are not even effective against bandits and kidnappers.
“It is a dangerous trend and it is also telling the security forces and the presidency that we have lost confidence in you,” he said.
He clarified that the highest calibre of guns the commissioner of police can issue license on are shotguns, otherwise known as double-barrel or pump-action, stressing that their range of 50-100 meters makes them ineffective in fighting bandits who use AK47 and AK49 which have a range of 300-500 meters.
“So, granted, that the commissioner of police issues licenses and citizens to buy these guns. If you are holding a gun that can only go 50-100 meters, you are already at a disadvantage.
“You cannot defend yourself from bandits coming with AK47 and AK49 and sometimes heavy machine guns with a battle range of about 2,000 meters. So, the call by governors for citizens to arm themselves is just out of frustration but it is not going to be of any use,” he said.
He said like in the case of the United States of America, there are future repercussions of arming civilians.
“It has become a problem for the United States and now they are looking for how to solve this problem of allowing everybody to buy a gun.
“When you look at what happened in Nigeria, as soon as the governors decided to use vigilantes to fight bandits, the vigilantes turned into a serious problem not only to the citizens, but some of them also became criminals.”
He, however, said the best way to tackle the security situation in the North West is for the presidency to increase the number of security personnel and properly arm them.
“We need more boots on the ground because most of the forest areas in the North have been taken over by bandits and kidnappers.
“So, you need to have more boots on the ground that can comb all the forest areas and the security forces must be re-armed, it is the only solution,” he said.