Paschal Emeka, Abuja
Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Lucky Irabor, has criticized the call by Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State to people of the state to bear arms to defend themselves against bandits.
Irabor declared that the call was not right, as the armed forces and other security agencies were there to handle the challenges, adding that Matawalle does not have the power to instruct the Commissioner of Police to issue gun licences.
He spoke to journalists on the matter during the opening of the Joint Exercise for the National Defence College and War Colleges of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, code-named “Exercise Grand Nationale,” in Abuja.
Irabor said he was yet to understand the basis for asking the citizens of Zamfara to bear arms.
He, however, said it was the responsibility of the Attorney General of the Federation to look at the constitution and the laws to see whether the governor had such powers.
“I believe that, in my view, it is not the right way to go. Of course, there are actions that members of the security agencies and the armed forces, in particular, the police and other security agencies, are doing to address insecurity in Zamfara and environs.
“Beyond that, of course, there are other legal issues, other issues of governance, issues that the government could have addressed using the instrumentality of the law that are available for him to bring greater peace and security.
“But like I said, I do not intend to say much about it, but I believe that the Federal Government, using the Attorney General, will look at the details of that press release and give further instruction.
“If what I read is true, I do not also think that the governor has the power to instruct the Commissioner of Police to issue licences, because the Commissioner of Police does not have the powers to issue licences.”
Irabor said the armed forces was only an instrument of policy implementation, adding that it did not take instructions from state governments.
He said the constitution gave rights and powers only to the Commander-in-Chief for the use of the armed forces.
“I believe that what we are doing in Zamfara and of course, across the states of the federation, is in deference to the provisions of the constitution.
“So, we are there because we are there to give support to the civil authority, in this case, the police.
“We do not need to restate what the issues that have led to the deployment of military across the country but then, like I said, we are doing the very best to ensure that peace returns to every part of the country,” he said.