Nigerian governor allows residents to carry guns for self-defense
ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) – A Nigerian governor has ordered the issuance of licenses so citizens can carry arms to defend themselves against armed groups, a first among measures drawn up to defeat gunmen responsible for the deaths of thousands of people in the troubled regions of this West African country. northern region.
Zamfara State Governor Bello Matawall announced through the State Information Commissioner on Sunday that the directive to issue firearms licenses follows “the recent escalation of attacks , kidnappings and criminal levies imposed on our innocent communities”.
Armed groups known locally as bandits have targeted isolated communities in the northwestern and central regions of Nigeria. Kidnappings for ransom took place last year in Zamfara, one of the states most affected by armed violence.
Vigilante gun licenses are very rare in Nigeria, and Zamfara could be the first state to offer mass endorsements. It was not yet clear how arming citizens would help prevent attacks; Authorities have admitted that even the Nigerian police are sometimes overwhelmed during violent attacks.
Nigeria is also waging a decade-long war against extremist Islamist rebels in the northeastern region.
“This act of terrorism has been a source of worry and concern for the people and the state government,” Ibrahim Dosara, Zamfara’s information commissioner, said in a statement. He said the government had arranged for 500 licenses to be distributed to those “who qualify and wish to obtain such weapons for self-defence”.
Past measures, including telecommunications blackouts, the blocking of millions of unregistered telephone lines and a series of curfews, have failed to achieve the much-sought peace.
As gun permits are rolled out in Zamfara, the local information commissioner has also urged residents to report informants working for armed groups. Analysts told The Associated Press that these informants are usually recruited by the attackers and acquiesce due to economic hardship and fear for their safety.
The state government has ordered the recruitment of 200 additional local guards in each of Zamfara’s 19 emirates “to increase manpower and enhance its strength and ability to deal with bandits”, said Dosara, the commissioner for the state. information.
Markets and gas stations in some unstable areas have also been closed. In addition, motorcycles were prohibited; groups of bandits numbering in the hundreds often attack communities on motorbikes.
“The government hereby orders the army, police, civil defense and other security agencies to mobilize their agents and carry out (the) fight in the enclaves of the criminals with immediate effect,” added the commissioner.