THE Zamfara State Government has said its directives to civilians to acquire guns to defend themselves do not confer an automatic right on all interested people to have access to firearms.
The Commissioner of Information in the state, Ibrahim Dosara, made the clarification while speaking on a Channels TV programme on Monday.
The Zamfara State government had directed that individuals should be prepared to obtain guns to defend themselves against bandits.
Zamfara, which is the epicentre of banditry in the North West and North Central parts of the country, has for years battled to contain the carnage, including granting amnesty to bandits and engaging vigilantes.
In the latest move against the criminal elements, the state government said it would dispatch 500 gun licensing application forms to the 19 emirates of the state, making a total of 9,500 potential guns as it directs the state’s commissioner of police to issue the licence to willing people.
However, mixed reactions on Sunday trailed the directive to acquire guns with residents and security experts giving kudos and knocks on the policy.
But while throwing more light on the government’s directives, Dosara said: “The process that we set in is a clean process. We started by saying let people who are wishing to obtain legitimate weapons come to fill out the forms.
“They are to be scrutinised and screened at their localities by their traditional rulers to ensure that no wrong hand or somebody with criminal records is given the licence to obtain a gun.
“When we fill these forms, we take them to the Commissioner of Police to do his own investigations and also screen the people before he forwards (the request) to the Inspector-General of Police who will then finally consider approving and giving the licence.
“So, we are following a legitimate process to make sure that our people are given legitimate weapons to protect themselves.”
He noted that the government took the decision “because the rainy season has commenced and farmers want to go back to their farms and ensure food security in the community and in the nation.”
“Also following a recent upsurge in some parts of the state where criminals have been attacking people almost on daily basis,” he added.
Meanwhile, checks by Daily Trust showed that there is an existing embargo on the issuance of firearm licence as President Muhammadu Buhari had, in May 2019, issued an executive order to that effect.
But Dosara said the situation in Zamfara State was war-like, especially in five local government areas, and deserved to be treated specially.
Self-help community volunteer forces, known as Yan Sakai, in Hausa, have been pushing back the bandits amid criticism of high-handedness and extrajudicial killings.
The state government said those who eventually get the licence would be monitored closely.