The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Luck Irabor, has declared that no state governor in the country has the authority to acquire high caliber weapons for use by any quasi-security outfit in their jurisdictions.
He disclosed this to State House correspondents on Friday after the National Security Council meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa.
The CDS was joined at the briefing by the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, and his Police Affairs counterpart, Mohammed Maigari Dingyadi.
According to him, citizens are to be wary and always read between the lines when certain requests are sought by States’ Chief Executives.
Recall that Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State recently stated that he had requested an AK-47 rifle licence but has not receive a response from the federal government after three months.
The governor on Thursday consequently gave the federal government one month deadline to approve his request to obtain an AK-47 licence for his State’s security outfit or he will seek counsel from his people on the best course of action.
He spoke during the passing out procession of the second batch of the State Volunteer Community Guards at IBB Square in Makurdi, the state capital.
Also, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State recently faulted the Presidency for granting 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, fielding questions on firearms, General Irabor 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 including journalists 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.
He said: “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 I 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.
Corroborating Gen Irabor, Aregbesola debunked the governors’ insinuation that state’s 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. None. 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!,” the Interior Minister added.
The Minister of Interior explained the conditions precedent before licence to bear arms could be obtained for local use, but which, according to him, the governors have 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, armarment or weapons is advised to go through the legitimate process of such activity or act,” Aregbesola explained.
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 any 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.”
Continuing, 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.”