No State Governor in Nigeria has the authority to acquire high caliber weapons like AK-47 rifles for use by quasi-security outfits established in their jurisdictions, says Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor.
He spoke on Friday at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja while responding to questions from journalists after a Security Council meeting convened by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Recall that Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State recently stated that he had requested AK-47 rifles licence for newly established Benue State Volunteer Community Guards but had failed to receive a response from the federal government after three months.
The Governor on Thursday consequently gave the administration one month deadline to approve his request to obtain an AK-47 licence or he will seek counsel from his people on the best course of action.
Also, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, recently faulted the Presidency on the denial that it has not granted permission to the Katsina State local security outfit to bear arms.
Specifically, Akeredolu had queried the granting of permission to the Kasina security outfit, whereas other state security outfits were denied to bear arms.
Reacting to these, Irabor urged journalists and other citizens to be wary and always read between the lines when certain requests are sought by their States’ Chief Executives.
He declared that the deployment of high calibre weapons such as the AK-47 rifles among others lies strictly within the purview of the Federal government security agencies alone.
He explained that AK-47 and, indeed, “firearms fall into two major categories. You have the automatic weapons and the ones that we may classify as non-automatic weapons which some of you may even have if you have the appropriate licences; talk about the Pump Action which is the very common ones, and sometimes even the dane guns some of the hunters use.
“What is involved in the class that is mentioned (by Governors) has to do with automatic weapons. There’s no State that has been given licence for that.”
He declared, adding that the sole responsibility of licencing lies with the federal government agencies and also to be used by government security agencies and not quasi security forces.
“So, you do not ask for what you do not have power to acquire,” General Irabor stated.
Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, who also briefed the press on the matter, debunked the Governors’ insinuation that they also have powers to procure fire arms for their local security outfits.
“No state government has been empowered to arm any of his security operatives or agency. None. So, the false claim that the state government is empowered by the federal government to have its own vigilante or sub national security outfit is false, absolute false!
“There is a procedure for whoever wants to legally bring in any weapon to follow. And whoever is authorised by the law of the land, to bring in legitimate ammunition, including the army, must go through that process.
“So, whoever wants to import ammunition, armarment or weapons is advised to go through the legitimate process of such activity or act”, he stated.
Also on the issue of application for the purchase of firearms, the Minister of Police Affairs, Mohammed Dingyadi, said that “government had made it categorically clear that it has not issued licence to any state government or to the organisation to purchase firearms for subnational security measures.
“So, for anybody to say he has given timeline for the federal government to issue you licence, I think he should know that there are due process that one should follow to secure such licences.”