The Military High Command yesterday rejected the call by the Zamfara State Government for residents to take up arms and defend themselves against bandits and terrorists.
Governor Bello Matawalle had asked the Commissioner of Police to work out the modalities for gun licence to residents willing to bear arms to protect themselves.
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Reacting yesterday, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor, said he did not see the basis for such call.
He spoke at the National Defence College, Abuja, during the opening ceremony of the joint exercise for the National Defence College and War Colleges of the Armed Forces of Nigeria codenamed “Exercise Grand Nationale”.
He said it was expedient for stakeholders to follow the rules and constitution accordingly.
Irabor said: “We do not take instruction from the state governments. We have a Commander-in-Chief. The constitution gives the right and powers to the C-in-C for the use of the armed forces and I believe what we’re doing in Zamfara State and across the states of the federation is not different to the provisions of the constitution.
“We’re there to give support to the civil authority in this case, the police. We’re there to ensure that peace returns to Zamfara. The governor does not have the powers to ask the CP to issue licences. I’m yet to get the details, but I do not think that’s the right thing to do.”
He said the Federal Government, through the Attorney-General of the Federation, should be in a position to address the issue.
“I do not see the basis. My view is that the AGF will look at the constitution and what the constitution says. That’s the right way to go. The Armed Forces are in Zamfara, but beyond that, I believe there are legal issues that should be addressed using the instrumentality of the law to bring peace and security.
“I believe that the Federal Government, through the Attorney-General, should look at the details of the press release. If what I read is true, I do not believe that the governor has the powers to instruct the CP to issue licence because the CP does not have the power to issue licences.
”Like I said, the AGF will do much about it. We have the Armed Forces in Zamfara, military, police, NSCDC; but beyond that, I believe there are legal issues”, Irabor said.
Irabor said the essence of the Operation Grand Nationale, was to review the programmes of the training colleges and the war colleges.