Presidency says no state government is authorized to carry automatic rifles following a threat by the Ondo state Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu to procure AK47 automatic rifle for his state Amotekun vigilante forces. The Senior Special Assistance to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu issued the statement on behalf of President Buhari, saying, the message is very clear from the president that nobody is allowed to carry an automatic rifle apart of the military and paramilitary law enforcement.
He added if there is any, it must be surrendered and where they fail to do so, instruction has been given to the law enforcement bodies to ruthlessly deal with such individuals or groups.
Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu had, on September 22, criticized the federal government’s rejection of the proposed use of arms by the Western Nigeria Security Network, Amotekun, but at the same time turn away its face when equivalent local security used automatic weapons in Katsina state.
Akeredolu had on Monday insisted that his administration would go ahead and procure automatic rifles for the Amotekun vigilante group to secure the lives and properties of his people in the region.
The Governor claimed that the denial of the Amotekum to bear automatic rifles has gone against true federalism which is our constitution.
In reaction, the presidency replied to the governor that even when it becomes necessary, the office of the National Security Adviser is the only office that can grant such permission after proper consideration and consultation with the office of the president, saying that
such approval has so far not been issued to the Ondo state government.
The statement reads, “In the specific Katsina State often cited, the Governor, Aminu Bello Masari wrote to explain that the administration invited the Provost of the Civil Defence Training College in Katsina to train their Vigilantes for a five-day period ‘in the handling and operations of Pump Action Rifles,’ emphasizing that ‘the Vigilantes were not trained to take over the responsibilities of the security agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria but to assist them.
“The Presidency appreciates the active involvement of states with security matters.
The statement added, “As they continue to expand their capabilities as well as their active collaboration with law enforcement agencies of the federation, the joint efforts continue to yield good results, thwarting attempts of terrorists to wreak havoc and destruction on communities.
“The president, in particular, has expressed happiness that in the last couple of years, security outfits mandated by state governments have been associated with several important initiatives, and reports have reached him of acts of utmost bravery and professionalism.
“He thanks them for their alertness that is helping to defeat nefarious plots against targets at grassroots levels. He, however, cautions against the politicization of security.
The statement concluded, “Government at the center with a national mandate cannot afford to alienate Ondo State or any other state for that matter on the important issue of security and urges leaders at various levels to exercise restraint in their speech, even as we are in a political season.”