Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State has said his directive to residents to acquire weapons was for self-defence.
In a statement on Tuesday by his media aide, Jamilu Magaji, the governor made the remark while inaugurating some security committees in Gusau, the state capital.
The governor disclosed that his directive is backed by extant legislation, adding that his government was aware of the misgivings expressed in some quarters regarding the new measure.
Matawalle added that his directive was part of the administration’s efforts to tackle protracted security challenges in the State, stating that his government had explored all options to address the issue to no avail.
He added that the measure was meant to encourage the communities suffering almost daily from the inhuman aggressions from the bandits to acquire firearms to defend their communities.
The governor said: “Self-defence is a natural instinct and has always been part of human survival strategy.
“As those entrusted with the safety of lives and property of the people, we will do everything possible to uphold this responsibility within the ambit of the law.
“We are also aware that the security forces are doing their best to combat this formidable challenge.
“Their efforts are, however, hampered by the lack of adequate modern warfare equipment and the dearth of personnel.
“Our decision to mobilise people to secure their communities is, therefore, for the people to complement the efforts of the conventional security forces in dealing with banditry and fishing out informants
“The acquisition and usage of firearms by the public, who desire to do so, would be governed by the Nigeria Firearms Act.”
The governor explained that apart from dialogue, reconciliation, and disarmament, his government regularly engaged with Federal Government and neighbouring states.
Matawalle added that the mobile telecommunication networks were shut down to give security forces the leeway to take the battle directly to the bandits.
The governor further said that his administration had provided modern RUGA settlement for nomads and logistics support to security agencies, including vehicles and drones.
He said that in recent weeks, the state has witnessed increased attacks in some parts of Gusau, Bukkuyum, and Gummi Local Government Areas.
Matawalle said that the government had provided 20 new Hilux Vans and 1,500 motorcycles to the committee on security to commence operation.