Call for self-defence: ACF, Middle Belt back Masari, Ohanaeze flays gov

NORTHERN socio-political organization, the Arewa Consultative Forum and the Middle Belt Forum have put their weight behind the call by Katsina State Governor, Bello Masari, on the people of his state to arm and defend themselves against bandits.

Masari had on Tuesday advised the people of the state to arm and defend themselves against bandits.

The governor said, “It is morally wrong for people to submit meekly to the bandits without any attempt to defend themselves. Security is everybody’s business.

“It is the people’s meek submission that emboldens the bandits to continue with their heinous activities with murderous frequency. We must free our minds of the notion that security is the sole responsibility of the government.”

But the ACF on Wednesday joined the Katsina governor to ask northerners to take up arms and defend themselves against the rampaging bandits in the region.

The forum’s National Publicity Secretary, Emmanuel Yawe, told one of our correspondents in a chat on Wednesday that the organisation was in full support of Masari’ s order, adding that “Governor Masari has said the right thing”.

Explaining that Masari’s call mandating Katsina people to arm themselves against bandits terrorising communities in the state was in order, Yawe argued that it had been proven that bandits dreaded local hunters more than the regular forces.

The ACF spokesman said, “Not all weapons are banned. In the rural areas, some people are armed with bows and arrows. Even guns are allowed where police permit is issued. The arms are legal when such permits are issued.

“Do not also forget that local hunters in Adamawa gave Boko Haram hell. Boko Haram dreaded them more than the combined team of army and police.

“The locals know the terrain more than the army and police, who are assembled from all over the country in line with the Federal Government policy on recruitments into government agencies. No wonder they (local hunters) were recruited to join the fight against Boko Haram. Governor Masari has said the right thing.”

Buy weapons for people, MBF tells Masari

On its part, the Middle Belt Forum expressed the need for government to buy and equip the people with weapons to enable them to defend themselves against terrorists’ attacks

The National President of the MBF, Dr Bitrus Pogu, told The PUNCH while reacting to Masari’s call on the people of his state to arm and defend themselves against bandits.

Pogu, who described the call as a welcome development, said, “If the governor has come to the reality of the security challenge facing the people, then let him go a step further and help the people to defend themselves.

“This is necessary because there is a problem here. No doubt, the people are ready to defend themselves, but do they have the resources to acquire weapons? The answer is no. So, the whole thing reverts back to the government.

“If the governor is serious about what he has said, let him help the communities that are vulnerable to acquire weapons and license them in such a way that vigilantes in those communities would be adequately armed to enable them to face any security threat by the terrorists in their communities. If he can do that, I believe the people will be able to defend themselves.”

We’ll challenge Southern Kaduna arms ban in court, says SOKAPU

Also, the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union said self-defence remained the constitutional and universal rights of citizens.

The spokesperson for SOKAPU, Luka Binniyat, said but for the brutal clampdown on firearms on Southern Kaduna, the destruction of lives and property in the area would have been minimal.

He added that the umbrella body of the people of the southern part of Kaduna would soon approach the court on the matter.

Binniyat said, “The truth is that self-defence is a constitutional and universal right. So, if an attacker comes to you with a gun? You surely need a gun to defend yourself against him.

“SOKAPU believes that had a brutal clampdown on firearm use not been imposed on Southern Kaduna, the huge loss of lives and property that we have suffered in the past years would have been minimal.

“We, therefore, totally back the advice by Masari for communities to purchase arms and defend themselves.

“Very soon, we shall go to court over this matter on whether or not citizens can defend themselves and whether such right includes the freedom to purchase arms for the exercise of such right.”

Call dangerous, Nigeria heading for doom – Ohanaeze Ndigbo

However, the Igbo apex socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, described the call by the Katsina State governor as a dangerous trend, adding that if the instrument of violence was spread among the citizenry, the country would be heading for doom.

The spokesman for Ohanaeze, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, who spoke with one of our correspondents, said instead of calling for citizens to arm themselves, the Federal Government should sit up “before it is too late”.

He said, “Ohanaeze Ndigbo sees the governor’s call as a dangerous trend because when you talk about government, it is a kind of social contract between the government and the governed. To that extent, the essence of government is for security of life and property.

“On the other hand, the monopoly of violence supposed to be within the government, but when the government does not have control of instrument of violence, it is a dangerous trend. It means the government is leaving the job which is supposed to do; the services which they are supposed to render to the society – security of life and property.

“It obvious that there’s a problem in the country and we call on the Federal Government to sit up because it is tending towards doom to the nation, where the instrument of violence spread among the citizenry, and is no longer within the control and monopoly of the government,” Ohanaeze further warned. PUNCH

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