Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, on Thursday said the state government would legally procure Ak-47 rifles for its security outfit, Community Volunteer Guards.
Ortom disclosed this in Makurdi, the state capital, at the unveiling of the security outfit just as states including Ondo, Ekiti, Osun and Zamfara also indicated that they would arm their security agencies as insecurity worsened in the country.
Also on Thursday, representatives of security agencies, Nigerian Governors’ Forum, the diplomatic corps and select government ministries, held a summit in Abuja on Thursday with a view to ensuring that schools are secure and re-opened
At the unveiling of the Benue State Security outfit, Ortom revealed that the state was being attacked as a result of the peoples’ refusal to surrender their land.
Ortom said that 500 people drawn from the 23 local government areas of the state were recruited in the first batch and participated in the passing out parade that held at the IBB Square, Makurdi.
The governor said that his administration decided to constitute the security outfit due to the failure of the Federal Government to disarm the militias.
He pledged that his administration would legally procure AK-47, AK-49 and other sophisticated weapons for the security operatives.
Ortom stated, “Given the fact that the Federal Government has consistently failed to disarm the terrorists who have continued to maim and kill our people at will, the state government is going to apply for a licence to legally procure AK-47, AK-49 and other sophisticated weapons for the Benue State Volunteers Guards to enable them tackle these murderous terrorists effectively.
“To do this effectively, Benue State Government had approved a two-week capacity building programme for 500 personnel of the Community Volunteer Guards to learn some basic paramilitary aspects.”
He promised that operations of the Benue State Community Volunteer Guards would be strictly guided by the law and warned that any official found operating outside the said law would be shown the way out.
Thirty operational vehicles and 200 communication gadgets were procured to enable the Volunteer Guards function maximally.
On its part, Ondo State Government said it was working towards acquiring a licence for the operatives of the Amotekun Corps to enable them to face the bandits.
Commander of the Amotekun Corps and Special Adviser to Governor Rotimi Akeredolu on Security, Akogun Adeleye, in an interview with The PUNCH, said one of the challenges of the corps was its inability to carry sophisticated weapons.
He, however, stated that the state government was working on it.
“We were made to understand that such weapons belong to the exclusive list that will only be granted by the Federal Government and that is why we are asking for the creation of state police which will put to rest all these intimidations by these invaders,” Adeleye stated.
Similarly, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Security Matters, Jimoh Dojumo, said the government was working towards acquiring the licence.
“We are working towards that and it will pass through the state House of Assembly,” he stated.
Also in Osun State, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Security, Abiodun Ige, said Governor Gboyega Oyetola was of the strong opinion that Amotekun should bear arms.
She, however, observed that under the current operational law guiding Amotekun’s operations, the operatives could only collaborate with other arm-bearing security agencies.
Ige said, “It is the governor that will be able to answer that question but I know that Oyetola is of the strong opinion that if they can allow them (Amotekun) to carry arms, it will be fine.
“But under the current operational law, they are to work in collaboration with other security agencies. And that gives them the fire-power that they need to operate effectively.”
In Zamfara State, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Bello Matawalle, Jamilu Iliyasu, said, the governor would follow due process regarding the purchase of firearms for self-defence in the state.
Iliyasu stated that the bill for the purchase of firearms for self-defence was currently before the state assembly for amendment. He added that the governor would respect whatever the law says regarding the issue of firearms.
He maintained that Matawalle would never act contrary to the constitutional provision and would follow legal ways to get the weapons if it became absolutely necessary.
Iliyasu added that the recent pronouncement by the governor on the purchase of firearms for self-defence was the right step in the right direction.
According to him, the National Assembly members from the state are currently trying hard to push for the amendment of the firearms license law.
Also reacting to the rising insecurity, Special Adviser on Security Matters to Ekiti State Governor, Ebenezer Ogundana, said that the state was working towards empowering operatives of its security outfit, Amotekun Corps.
The security adviser spoke in Ado Ekiti while reacting to a statement by the Benue State Governor, Sam Ortom, during the launch of a security outfit for his state that he would legally apply for a licence to buy AK-47 for the outfit.
Ogundana said, “We are working towards that. We are looking at the situation where the operatives of our security outfit can carry automatic weapons”.
Although the retired general stated that the security strategies of the state government would not be disclosed, he said, “I can assure you that we are going to empower Amotekun any moment from now”.
When contacted for comment, Spokesman for the Nigeria Police Force, Muyiwa Adejobi, said he was not aware of Ortom’s plan and thus could not comment on it.
“I am not aware, I have not been informed. I didn’t watch the programme (by the Benue governor); I have been busy at a workshop, so I can’t comment on what I have not heard.’’
On its part, Ogun State Government says it has no plan to procure Ak-47 riffles for state security to combat insecurity challenges.
Special Adviser to the state governor on security matters, Sola Subair, said this on Thursday while speaking with one of our correspondents in Abeokuta.
Subair said the Federal Government had suspended possession of firearms.
He said, “We need to be reminded that there is still ban on the issuance of licence for firearms. I don’t know what legal means he (Ortom) is going to use to get Ak-47.
“I know that in Nigeria, there is no law that permits anyone to carry firearms. The law does not permit anybody to carry AK- 47.”.
Meanwhile, the United States Government says it is training about 150 transitional policemen that would be deployed in the Northeast.
US Ambassador to Nigeria, Marybeth Leonard, said this at a high level summit tagged ‘Safeguarding Our Schools’ which was organised by the Emergency Coordination Centre in Abuja on Thursday.