By Section 14(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999 as amended), the primary responsibility of every government is to secure the live and property of its citizens. Whenever this responsibility is shifted by the government to its people, that government is arguably a failure.
Your Excellency sir, I read the newest government policy on security today, 26th June, 2022 in which you made case for individuals to acquire guns to defend themselves from bandits attacks. As a citizen of the state who is keenly interested in the restoration of peace and development of Zamfara State, I hereby, most humbly, offer the following observations:
1. In the policy, you directed the Commissioner of Police to issue license to the citizens to own guns. How sir? An ordinary citizen battling to feed himself and family may not have the financial capacity to own a gun. An AK 47 rifle is estimated at around N1m. That aside, bandits no longer use AK 47, which gun should a citizen acquire to match the sophisticated weapons in the possession of the bandits?
2. To my mind, we don’t need any committee now. What we need is Security Commission. The Commission should be composed of persons of unquestionable integrity, competence and capacity to deliver. It should be responsible for intelligence gathering and management, investigation and prosecution of bandtry- related crimes.
3. In the policy, you directed the Zamfara State House of Assembly to, as a matter of urgency, pass an Informant Bill. On 4th February, 2020, I was personally invited by the Zamfara State House of Assembly to a public hearing on banditry law. I honoured the invitation and made my presentation. Over 2 years now, I do not know the position of that Bill. Sir, we need actions not empty commands.
4. I support the idea of Community Protection Guards. If the Guards are given the necessary support, they can secure our communities. They should be the only category of persons to bear arms. Their trainings should be carried out by the conventional security agencies. They should reach every nooks and crannies of Zamfara State. Their weapons should be superior to the ones in possession of the bandits. They should be made to respect human rights of the citizens. Their rules of engagement should be clearly spelt out. Their funding should be well thought out by the government for sustainability.
5. Your Excellency Sir, you seem to have politicized the composition of the committees. For instance, you appointed a person with no security background as the Chairman of the Intelligence Committee. DIG Mamman Tsafe may be better up. Again, you appointed a layman as the Chairman of the Prosecution Committee when there are other persons with the relevant background and expertise in the committee. Justice Nasiru Umar Gummi, a retired Judge of the Zamfara State High Court, whose integrity is beyond question, may be better up. Junaidu Aminu Kaura, the current Attorney- general and Commissioner of Justice of Zamfara State, who, by law, under Section 211 of the Constitution is the Chief Law Officer of the State, is also another good option.
I have nothing personal with any of the members of the committees. In fact, I have tremendous respect for most of them. But to me, Zamfara State is greater than all of us. Our personal interest should not supersede our quest for peace in the state.
6. The terms of reference for all the committees should be clearly spelt out to avoid overlapping and duplication of duties.
7. Your Excellency Sir, what we need is permanent solution to the insecurity not a militarized solution. Identify the root causes of the insecurity and map out strategy on how to deal with them. Some of the causes are: poverty, illiteracy, joblessness, corruption, lack of infrastructure and collapse of our justice system.
On the final note, it is my candid opinion that it is suicidal on the part of your government to proceed with this security arrangement that will allow citizens to own guns. It will lead to state of anarchy and war.
Use the money you intend to buy guns to buy food for the IDPs, clothing, drugs, build decent homes for them and make strategic plan on how to return them to their communities.
It is your constitutional responsibility to secure our live and property, do your best to achieve that.
I never doubted your zeal and determination to address our insecurity. But if you find it difficult, resign.
Galadi is a former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Gusau Branch (covering Zamfara State). He is the President of Bello Galadi Foundation. He can be reached on:firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com 26th June, 2022