From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Luck Irabor made the clear statement on Friday that no state governor in the nation has the right to purchase large caliber weaponry for use by quasi-security organizations under their control.
Recall that Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State recently claimed that he had applied for an AK-47 rifle license but that the federal government had not responded to him after three months.
Ortom, while speaking on Thursday at the passing out procession of the second batch of the State Volunteer Community Guards at IBB Square in Makurdi, the state capital, gave the administration a one-month deadline to approve his request to obtain an AK-47 license or he will consult with 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.
But while reacting to the question on the request by some governors seeking to arm their local security outfits, Irabor, however, cautioned residents to be wary and always read between the lines when certain requests are made by state chief executives in response to a query about certain governors’ desire to arm their local security forces.
The CDS was joined by the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola and his counterpart, Minister of Police Affairs, Mohammed Maigari Dingyadi while the trio briefed newsmen after a National Security Council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The CDS 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 said, Nigerians (Journalists inclusive) must be able to read between the lines when certain comments are made, to elicit certain reactions, as opposed to the reality with respect to what the security setting is.
Shading light, 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. Talking 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 mentioned 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.
Aregbesola on his part debunked the governors’ claims that states Executives 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. Non. So, the false claim that the state government is empowered by the federal government to have his own vigilante or sub national security outfit is false, absolute false!
He further explained that the conditions precedent before licence to bear arms could be obtained for local use, but which, according to him, the governors had failed to meet.
“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, armament or weapons is advised to go through the legitimate process of such activity or act.”
Also on the issue of application for the purchase of firearms, the Minister of Police Affairs said, “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.”
Dingyadi advised “those concerned to please follow the due process to ensure that they get the appropriate response of the federal government on the matter.”