Plateau killings: Groups slam COAS on why Nigerians can’t bear arms

The Middle Belt Forum, MBF, Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, and Jama’atu Nasril Islam, JNI, were yesterday up in arms against the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Taoreed Lagbaja, over the latter’s declaration that Nigerians cannot be allowed to bear arms to defend themselves in the face of attack by marauders.
The Army chief’s stance came against the backdrop of calls by groups and individuals across the country that Nigerians be allowed to carry arms to defend themselves against militias, terrorists, bandits and kidnappers, among others, especially given the Christmas Eve attacks on communities in Bokkos and Mangu local government areas of Plateau State.
The coordinated attacks led to the death of over 200 persons and the destruction of hundreds of properties.


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But the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, agreed with Lt General Lagbaja, saying allowing the people to bear arms to defend themselves against attacks might lead to anarchy.

Speaking on Channels Television’s end-of-the-year programme, ‘’2023: Year of Transition,’’ late Sunday night, Lagbaja had dismissed calls for self-defence, stressing it could lead to anarchy.

It’s call to anarchy — COAS

“I do not support that (self-defence). I think that is a call to anarchy,” Lagbaja said
According to him, the Nigerian Army can defend the country and as such, there is no need for self-defence.

He also said as part of efforts to bolster security in Plateau, more troops were being deployed to the area.

The Army chief said: “I have reeled out our plans for 2024 for Plateau State. The troops that we are deploying to Plateau, are on their way to Plateau now.

“This night or first thing tomorrow, they should be on the Plateau. We are sending more equipment to enhance efficiency of the troops.”
It will be recalled that over 50 villages were attacked in the two local government areas, with President Bola Tinubu calling for a thorough probe.

The assaults have also drawn global criticism, as the UN asked the Federal Government to do a thorough probe into the attacks and bring the perpetrators to justice.

“I call on the Nigerian authorities to investigate this incident promptly, thoroughly, and independently, consistent with international human rights law, and to hold those responsible to account in fair trials.

“The cycle of impunity fuelling recurrent violence must be urgently broken. The government should also take meaningful steps to address the underlying root causes and to ensure non-recurrence of this devastating violence,’’ UN rights chief, Volker Turk, had said in a statement.

Countering the army chief in a reaction yesterday, the Middle Belt Forum, MBF, said the army’s position will not be in the overall interest of the people.

COAS must rethink his stand — MBF

The National President of the MBF, Dr. Bitrus Pogu, asked the Army chief to rethink his position, especially as security agencies have not been able to adequately protect the people from marauders.

He said: “I completely disagree because the security agencies are not adequately protecting Nigerians who are being killed like chicken. Before now, Nigerians are allowed to carry some categories of arms which are not of military grade.

“If they have such arms, at least they can protect themselves. But when you have people in the bushes with sophisticated weapons whose location is known and yet are left there, and they want Nigerians to stay as chickens to be killed by these criminals, it means there is collusion to have Nigerians killed.

“Nigerians should be allowed to carry at least some arms to defend themselves. Before now, we had some categories of arms, shotguns and so on, which were allowed.

“This should be allowed and should remain allowed. Anything short of that means there is a conspiracy against Nigerians.

“Whoever made that statement should go and have a rethink. Already, there are categories of arms allowed for Nigerians and it should not be stopped. Nigerians should have higher grade arms to defend themselves because it has been proven that security agencies have not been able to protect them.”

Nigerians have right to defend themselves —Afenifere

Reacting to the Chief of Army Staff’s position, National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Mogaji Gboyega Adejumo, said there is a need to overhaul the security architecture of Nigeria.

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