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Afenifere, Ohanaeze, NEF, others knock Masari over call for self-defence

GOVERNOR Bello Masari’s call for self-defence has attracted widespread condemnation.

Masari had in a chat on the Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) asked the people of the state to acquire arms in a bid to protect themselves from bandits terrorizing communities in the North-West.

But in in a chat with journalists yesterday in Lagos, National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Jare Ajayi, said the governor’s remark has further exposed the paucity of deep thinking at the level of governance in Nigeria.

He asked the governor to admit his inability to tackle the problem, seek help or resign.

Ajayi said: “Saying that citizens would be given arms to defend themselves as a way of tackling the insecurity problem in Katsina is almost like saying that you are to ‘democratize’ crime because crime could not be controlled.

“What sort of weapons would the government give the citizens that would be as sophisticated as the ones in the hands of terrorists?

“The same governor earlier negotiated with the terrorists the other time including paying them ransoms as reported.

“That did not stop terrorism from festering. What gave him and his advisers the confidence this new idea will work the magic?

“In any case, where will the money for the arms come from? From a budget that has no provision for such?

“Governor Masari and those who may be thinking like him should perish the thought. They can eat the humble pie, admit that they can no longer find solutions to societal problems. They can then seek genuine help or resign.

“Nigeria and Nigerians deserve far better than what we are getting from our governments. Too bad.”

President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prof. George Obiozor, said such suggestion indicates that governance of confusion was now complete in the country.

“With that proposal, the problem of Nigeria is getting confused. With that, governance of confusion is complete,” Obiozor said, laughing it off.

The Middle Belt Forum said the pronouncement by Governor Masari was an indication of a government that has failed in the country.

National President of MBF, Dr. Bitrus Pogu, speaking in Makurdi, Benue State, said: “That statement is an indication that government and governance have failed. It is an indication that we are living in a failed state.

“Any arming of citizens to defend themselves has to be through an organised structure. Simply put, we should have state police, local government police, county police and have true federalism, just as it is in America, whose constitution and governance we are copying.

“Governor Masari’s statement is an indication of frustration. The governor forgot about anything and dwelt on one aspect only, that is the right to self-defence.

“That he has made that statement is a wake-up call for all Nigerians that a governor has now openly come out to say that the federal system that controls the police, the army and all the paramilitary forces has failed the people and therefore, we are living in a failed state.

“It is high time the legislature of this country passed a law to allow for state police, local government police and decentralization of this federal control which has failed.

“As far as I am concerned, that is what it portends. It calls for confusion but all the same, it sends a message and that message should be a wake-up call for all of us.”

Reacting, National Publicity Secretary of Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, Emmanuel Yawe, said: “If he (Masari) does it within the provision of the law that will be okay. However, it will be a tragedy if a governor will do anything that will lead to a further breakdown of law and order.”

On its part, the CAN Vice Chairman (Northern region), Rev. John Hayab, who reacted to the governor’s remark in Abuja, said the organisation was concerned that security agencies had been unable to redress the issue of banditry and other crimes in the region.

He said Governor Masari’s comment was a confirmation of the inability of the security agencies to prevail against the criminals.

Hayab said: “The public talk by Governor Masari about self-defense is not new to us and our constitution.

“The only concern, we have is that our security agencies will use this to arrest more victims whose only sin is having guns to defend themselves while the criminals will continue to do havoc and will not be arrested.

“When a serving governor repeatedly makes this type of comment that Governor Masari is making which, to my knowledge, is the second time he is saying that citizens should get weapons to defend themselves; then know that he is aware that our security forces cannot defeat the bandits.

“It’s unfortunate that our leaders would advise citizens who are still waiting for a miracle to happen with regards to defeating the bandits to wake up and perform the miracle themselves.

“Those we have been praying and hoping that they will defeat the terrorist for us are saying that they cannot help us.”

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