Should Nigerians Take Up Arms To Defend Themselves?

The alarming rate of insecurity and threat to lives and properties in the country has called for a new debate on whether Nigerians can arm themselves to protect their families and businesses.

The recent videos where bandits were seen with RPGs and AK-47 rifles proved that the country is on the verge of total collapse into anarchy if something drastic is not done. The question many continue to ask is if herdsmen could go about with guns why can’t farmers too?

As logical as that could sound, is the Nigerian society sane enough to be filled with guns? Even the United States still battle with issues of gun control. We may have a Somalia happening again where militia groups will emerge to form their own government. It is a call for disaster of epic proportions especially when ethnic and religious conflicts are involved.

It is very clear that the ineptitude of the present administration in addressing the issues of killer herdsmen and bandits have further aggravated the problem.

The government is slow and lacking in vision to deal decisively with terror. Negotiations with bandits, ransom payments and plea bargains for those who are supposed to be dealt with ruthlessly has given others a good reason to engage in atrocities.

Unfortunately, if things continue to degenerate, we will begin to have militia figures like Sunday Igbhoho in several other parts of the country and hell will let loose,

The Nigerian Minister of Defence Bashir Magashi on Wednesday, urged Nigerians to defend themselves in the face of growing banditry in the country.

Magashi who addressed journalist at the National Assembly complex said “the villagers have the competency and capability to defend themselves”.

The call might promote a free for all weapon brandishing in a nation with no gun control laws and currently battling with insecurity.

Just before his remark, it was reported that bandits had abducted more than 20 school children in Kagara, Niger State.

The Minister described bandits attack as “minor things” wondering why people running from attackers who he claimed sometimes have a few rounds of ammunition.

“Is it the responsibility of the military alone? It is the responsibility of everybody to keep alert and to find safety when necessary. But we shouldn’t be cowards,” the minister told reporters.

“At times, the bandits will only come with about three rounds of ammunition. When they fire shots, everybody runs. In our younger days, we stand to fight any aggression coming for us.

“I don’t know why people are running from minor things like that. They should stand and let these people know that even the villagers have the competency and capability to defend themselves.”

He is not the first to call Nigerians to arms. A former Nigeria Minister of Defence Theophilus Danjuma had made a similar call when he accused the armed forces of colluding with terrorists and bandits.

Danjuma said during his address at the Taraba State University that communities who suffer constant attacks must rise up and defend themselves since security agencies are believed to be colluding.

“Everyone of us must rise up. The armed forces are not neutral. They collude. The collude. They collude with the armed bandits that kill people, kill Nigerians. They facilitate their movement, they cover them,” he said.

He said, “If you are depending on the armed forces to stop the killings, you will all die one by one. The ethnic cleansing must stop in Taraba State, must stop in all the states of Nigeria. Otherwise, Somalia will be a child’s play.

“I ask everyone of you to be alert and defend your country, defend your territory, defend your state. You have nowhere else to go. You have nowhere else to go.”

Danjuma’s triggered criticism from the defence authorities, Mansur Dan-Ali, Minister of Defence, describing it as a “call to anarchy” which should be disregarded by well-meaning Nigerians.

In November 2014, during a citation of the Holy Quran, a former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi urged community leaders to summon the courage to defend themselves against Boko Haram attacks.

“These people (Boko Haram) when they attack towns, they kill boys and enslave girls. People must stand resolute,” Sanusi said.

“People must not assume that the crisis will not reach their area. If it comes, we are asking God to give us fortitude, but if He wishes to take martyrs from amongst us, we should be ready to give our lives.

“People must not wait for soldiers to protect them. There are even instances where soldiers on ground ran away in the face of attack.”

In early 2018, after several massacres, the state governor Samuel Ortom, urged his people to do everything legally possible to safeguard themselves.

He said “It is because we are law-abiding, that is why we are being attacked daily. You need to listen and hear the opinion of the people of the state on the matter,” he said.

“I think the people should have the right to defend themselves and not make themselves easy prey to be killed in their homes.

“So any lawful means, you can adapt to defend yourself just go ahead in Benue state. We are not going to wait for the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, to do it.”

A controversial governor in the Southern region of Nigeria, Mr Nyesom Wike had also made a similar call.

“People who were either sleeping or doing one thing or the other to help themselves were killed like cows and ordinary animals,” Wike said.

“We just visited the graveside and it is quite touchy; you should take heart, God will fight for you. But let me say that God fighting for you does not mean that you will not defend yourself.

“We must not take the laws into our hands, but that does not mean that if you see an armed robber coming to your house you should run. You must defend yourself when you see an armed robber coming. That is not taking laws into your hand.”

With prominent and officeholders including Defence Ministers calling on citizens to bear arms is an indication that the Federal Government has less to offer in terms of protection of lives and property.

The question remains, is Nigeria ready for uncontrolled gun in a nation that could barely address its insecurity?

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