The law against banditry in Zamfara State.The message -By Sani Takori Mni

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Worried by unabated security challenges and the inability of the security agencies to over come these challenges. The  Zamfara state government has put in place legal instruments with a view  to ensure that its discharged its constitutional obligation to its citizens.

 The legal instruments, has now been subject of discussion at various fora and a topical issue. Some legal minds and security agencies kicked against the law and even called the Attorney General of the federation to call the government to order. The security agencies, may have forgotten that sometime this year, the minister of defense was quoted to have asked citizens to defend themselves. 

In the south west, a security outfit  Amotekun was put in place when the governors of the region were convinced that the security agencies may not have the capacity to contain the lost of lives and property in the region. The Attorney General of the federation resisted the formation of this security outfit but eventually he cannot by law stop the states from enacting law to give legal protection for their citizens.

Nigeria  is a federation and the constitution had provided for matters that are within exclusive right of the federal  government. The exclusive list, the concurrent and residual legislative list. Than the doctrine of covering  the field.The scope of Zamfara law provided, amongst others things death sentences for bandits, kidnappers, and life sentence for informers. Further more, the law, made provision for those who intend to possessed fire arms for self defense to apply for licenses under the fire arms act 1958 as (amended).

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The criticism that followed  the enactment of this law, perhaps forgotten to examine the various provisions of the laws on self or private defense at various levels of states and institutions. As early as 1960 the faramers  of our penal code contemplated that, the dynamics of human behavior need a law to responds to issues that are unforeseeable. The penal code of northern region which came into force on the first day October 1960, recognized the need to make provision for  the right of self or private defence .”Nothing is an offence which is done in the lawful exercise to the right of private defence “The constitution of Nigeria 1999 as (amended) also recognized the need to recognized these rights. From sections 33 chapter 1v of the of  constitution. However, sections 45 (1) put restrictions on these rights. “Nothing in sections 37, 38, 39, 40 and 41 of this constitution shall  invalidate any law that is reasonably justified in democratic society. And  in the interest of defense, public safety, public order or public health. Nigeria as member state of united nations, is also bound by the provision of the article 51 of the Global body. This section recognized the right of self defense amongst the member nation. Every member nation had the right to defend its sovereign integrity against aggression by any member nation. 

Article 51 of the United Nations also made provision for these rights in order to give states to defend and expel aggression by other states.The United States second amendments to its constitution in 1938 which states that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, these provisions has been reinforced by Supreme Court of the United States in the case of District of Columbia Vs Heller 2008, the supreme court of the United States held that the second amendment protect individual rights to possess firearms and not connected with service in the militia and to use that arm for traditional lawful  purposes such as self defense .Mr Sindhu Vijaye Kumar in his Acta Universitatis Danubius. Juridica volume 7, No1, 2011, he examined the essence of self defense under article 51 of the United Nations charter and he posed a hypothetical question whether it is a privilege or a priority, he concluded that article  51 gives the state the right of self defense as exceptional under exceptional circumstances, self defense according to him is a right to eventually exert by almost living creatures as such it is a fundamental law, the first law of the nature to which all other laws are subordinated.

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The critics have also mentioned that, it is not lawful for the government to make provisions for individuals to own guns for their self defense, the argument here is that the people have already started initiating this self defense even before the government made these laws, in fact many communities have a structure of young men in their communities to defend their villages and homes even in the urban centre, the law is just to regulate the possession of these fire arms, further more it has taken into consideration the firearms act of 1958 as amended, directed all those wishing to have firearms to apply to the appropriate authority and get license after fulfilling all the conditions. 

It is therefore a desire of the government to ensure that firearms are lawfully possessed, unlike how illegally acquired by the bandits and other insurgents and even private individuals in Nigeria.

 This law therefore, offends no constitutional provisions of the right of the citizens to defend themselves. The dynamics of human behavior we have mentioned earlier has brought about crimes in higher rate, bloodshed, destruction of lives and property and blood letting across the country and therefore even the doctrine of necessity can be invoked to enact this law. 

We are not unaware of the economic capacity of the people to acquire these guns in the midst of poverty but the law is there to promote those who can afford it.  We appreciate all the criticisms for or against this law, indeed some of this criticisms might help the state to further enhance this noble objectives.

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Fortunately the governor recently inaugurated the state community  protection Guards who are to work  hand in hand with security agencies. 

Finally,  people should understand that, the law itself is collection of threat, deterrence and punishments. 

Takori Esq Mni wrote from Abuja

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