- by E. Nriezedi
- 10:43 AM January 23, 2022
As the spate of insecurity increased across the length and breadth of Nigeria, the cries for improved security measures have risen from almost all parts of the country.
Stakeholders have offered different solutions to the insecurity; ranging from the use of drones, improved political will to fight insecurity, decentralisation of security operations, regional security outfits in the forms of Amotekun (South West), Ebubeagu (South East) and even the outright resignation of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) over his failure to get a handle on the security challenges of the nation.
Meanwhile, some Nigerian governors, Samuel Ortom of Benue State, Aminu Masari of Katsina State (Buhari’s home state), and Darius Ishaku of Taraba State have resorted to asking citizens to defend themselves.
In February, the Minister of Defence, retired Major General Bashir Magashi told Nigerians to rise to their own defence. In March 2018, a former Chief of Army Staff and Defence Minister, T.Y. Danjuma also called for self-defence.
These governors have on different occasions advocated for the citizens to be armed, so they can defend themselves against bandits and other criminal elements.
In this piece, we look at the different times that Governor Masari had made the call for self-defence.
On Friday, June 25, 2021, Masari while inaugurating an operation and communication centre at the state’s police headquarters, said the only choice left was for people to fight back.
“The era of blaming the Federal Government and security agencies on issues of Insecurity is over; let us wake up and see how we can tackle the problem ourselves. Fighting back is necessary.
“We cannot fold our arms and be waiting for security personnel from other places to come to our aid, therefore, everybody should be a police personnel by giving valuable information to security agencies.”
In August 2021, during a condolence visit to Jibia Local Government Area, where eight persons had died after the driver of a Customs vehicle lost control and ran over them, the governor reiterated the calls for self-defence.
In a statement by his spokesman, Abdu Malumfashi, the governor said, “It is the people’s meek submission that emboldens the bandits to continue with their heinous activities with murderous frequency. People must divorce their minds from the mistaken notion that security is government’s sole responsibility alone.”
Defending his stance during an interview on state radio, Nagarta in Kaduna, the governor claimed that there are not enough security operatives to man the state, hence the need for citizens to pitch in.
He said, “We also know that there are not enough security personnel. How many soldiers are there in Katsina and this is because this insecurity affected virtually all states of the federation.
“This compounded the problem and people cannot fold their hands and watch themselves being killed. If they abandon their villages, where will they go and when will the killings end?”
Months later, on Tuesday, December 28, 2021, the governor repeated his call for self-defence, while speaking at Buhari’s house in Katsina, he said, “It’s Islamically allowed for one to defend himself against attack. One must rise to defend himself, his family and assets. If you die while trying to defend yourself, you’ll be considered a martyr. It’s surprising how a bandit would own a gun while a good man trying to defend himself and his family doesn’t have one.”
Masari went on state that his government would be willing to help citizens acquire arms, however, the arms have to be registered with the police.
“We’ll support those who come with the initiative to procure arms because residents need to also complement the efforts of security agencies. These people (security agents) don’t have the number to protect the people. When President Buhari came, he even tried by increasing the number of our security agents but it’s inadequate. Count it yourself, how many policemen do we have in this country? How many soldiers do we have?” he added.
Reactions have always trailed his calls for self-defence.
In July, after his initial call, some youths in the state organised catapult training, so they would be ready for armed bandits’ attacks.
The Social Media arm of the Peoples Democratic Party in Katsina State which organised the ‘training’ tagged ‘Operation Catapult Shoot’ said, “We embarked on the exercise in compliance with the recent directive issued by the Katsina State government and we are determined to expand the exercise across local government areas of the state.”
A north-centric group, Coalition of Northern Groups have also demanded his resignation for asking citizens to defend themselves.
In a statement signed by its North West coordinator, Jamilu Charanchi, the CNG said Masari’s call was an admission that he was not in charge of the state and had failed in his constitutional responsibility of protecting lives and properties therefore, he should resign.
Defending his calls for self-defence, the governor had in a statement issued by his Director General on Media, Abdul Labaran said, “Security is on the exclusive list of the Nigerian Constitution, which means it is exclusively a federal government affair.
“In matters of security, a governor is the Chief Security Officer of his state only in name, because the various security chiefs working in the state take orders not from him, but from their superiors in Abuja.
“The only things they take from governors are the financial and material assistance (both solicited and unsolicited), which they extend to the security institutions in the states.”