By Marcus Ikechukwu
The presidency on Tuesday, reacted to demands by the Ondo State government that the state security outfit be armed to enable it fight insecurity.
Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Garba Shehu reacted when he said the Presidency wishes to strongly assert that there is no state, not Katsina, not any other state in the federation, that has been authorized to procure automatic weapons for their security outfits.
Holding forth for the Buhari administration, Shehu said under this administration, the President has repeatedly made it clear that nobody is allowed to illegally carry AK-47 or any other automatic weapons and that they must surrender them.
He said where they fail to do so, the law enforcement agencies have been given clear directives to deal with any such outlaws.
According to the presidency, under the existing regulations, only the Office of the National Security Adviser can issue such authorization, upon proper clearance by the President and Commander-in-Chief and as it is at this moment, no such approvals have been issued to any state government.
“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,” emphasizing 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,” he explained further.
He noted that the Presidency appreciates the active involvement of states with security matters.
His words, “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”.
Shehu also said the President appreciates them for their alertness that is helping to defeat nefarious plots against targets at grassroots levels.
He, however, cautions against the politicization of security.
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.
Recall that the Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu has been advocating for the Federal Government to approve arms for the South West controlled security outfit, Amotekun.
Similarly the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom had recently vowed to do everything within his power to ensure the state security outfit is armed to fight criminality which cuts across bandits and herdsmen attacks.