Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State has said his administration will ensure the people are well mobilised to protect themselves against banditry and other crimes.
The governor said his call for the people to arm themselves for self-defence in line with the relevant laws was borne out of his desire to complement the efforts of security agencies and save society.
He stated these while inaugurating four committees on security matters and presenting 20 new Hilux vehicles and 1,500 motorbikes to them to begin operations.
The committees are the Special Committee on Intelligence Gathering on Banditry, Management Committee on Operations of the Community Protection Guards (CPG), Committee on Prosecution of Banditry Related Offences, and State Security Standing Committee.
Speaking at the event, Matawalle said self-defence is a natural instinct and had always been part of human survival strategy, adding that his government would “do everything possible to uphold this responsibility within the ambit of the law.”
He added, “We are aware of misgivings expressed in some quarters regarding the new measures, particularly the decision to encourage members of the communities suffering almost daily from the inhumane aggression of the bandits to acquire firearms to defend their communities.
“We are also aware that the security forces are doing their best to combat this formidable challenge; their efforts are however hampered by 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, pointing out that the acquisition and usage of firearms by members of the general public who desire to do so would be governed by the Nigeria Firearms Act.”
The governor, in a statement by his press secretary, Jamilu Iliyasu Birnin Magaji, said the establishment of the committees was part of his administration’s efforts to address banditry plaguing the state and other states in the northwestern zone.
He stated that his administration had explored all options to address banditry and related crimes in the state including dialogue, reconciliation and disarmament strategy, regular engagement with the federal government as well as collaboration with the neighbouring states and Niger Republic.
He said the state had also shut down mobile telecommunication networks to give security forces the leeway to take the battle directly to the bandits’ fortresses and provided a settlement for nomads, among others.
He added that the committees would further boost the state government’s efforts to combat the dreadful challenge, in both the short and long run.
In recent weeks, he said, the state had witnessed increased attacks in some parts of Gusau, Bukkuyum and Gummi local government areas. He therefore used the occasion to once again convey the sympathy of the state government to the people of the affected villages.