The Katsina State government has defended Governor Aminu Bello Masari’s call on residents of the state to defend themselves from banditry attacks, saying it is better to spend money on buying arms than to pay ransom to kidnappers.
The special adviser to the governor on security matters, Ibrahim Ahmed Katsina, stated this while speaking on LEADERSHIP podcast’s live show, ‘The Big Issue’ yesterday, saying enough is enough for banditry activities in the state.
Disclosing that the government in the past had taken several unsuccessful measures, including granting amnesty to the bandits, to stem the tide of banditry in the state but that the bandits had betrayed the government’s agreement with them and continued causing hardship on the people on a daily basis.
According to him, that would no longer be tolerated, hence the encouragement given to the people to take up arms and defend themselves and their communities.
Katsina added that self-defence is constitutional in as much as the people would operate within the ambit of the law, by obtaining gun licences from the police and other arrangements the state government has put in place.
He said the decision is part of the state government community policing effort, by setting up three tiers of security arrangements, using the traditional rulers and the Nigeria Police Force to regulate and monitor the operations of the residents in their various communities.
“The situation is under control and what His Excellency the governor said is a normal call which is backed by the Police Act. You know, even if you kill somebody in self-defense, the law would not hold you accountable or responsible.
“And this is just history repeating itself, because the governor is not the first to advise people to defend themselves. When you ask people to do that, there are legal ways to do it. Even the governor clarified today that those who arm themselves would be registered by the police so that they can be properly monitored.”
Katsina government, however, added that “the proper thing to be done is, instead of the people remaining docile and allowing bandits to continue killing them like chickens, that is unacceptable.
“People should wake up to their responsibilities, because everybody knows the size of our security operatives are inadequate and hence need support.
“What His Excellency has said is an enhancement of the community policing initiative where people will partner security agencies by complementing the policing work.
“As far as Katsina is concerned, we are awakening the society by telling the bandits ‘enough is enough’, we will no longer tolerate them.”
The Katsina governor’s security aide insisted that his principal’s call was not off the cuff, but a product of research.
“What the governor has done was out of research; we checked the provision of the constitution for the meaning of self-defence; we also checked that of the Police Act before His Excellency, the governor, came up with the announcement that people should defend themselves.
“It doesn’t mean that because people are law abiding, then bandits should come to kill them. What we want is for the media to inform the people correctly, because what we are saying also has a psychological aspect to it: once the bandits know that people are restrained from carrying arms, they act with impunity.
“If you go back to the history on how Americans allowed their people to carry arms, it was because of the Barbarians who were attacking people with impunity and government decided that people should carry arms and defend themselves.
“We are doing the same thing the civilised world has done by telling the people to defend themselves,” he said.
The special adviser further said that if all modalities are fully implemented, the threat of banditry in the state would end, even as he called on other states to emulate Katsina State government, especially its self-defence strategy and other internal security initiatives to end banditry in the country.
“I think this is what other states should copy from Katsina State and I’m telling you, if we do this, the days of bandits are numbered and the end to this criminality against our country is over,” he concluded.