The Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom has repeated his call to the federal government to allow responsible citizens in the country to bear sophisticated arms like AK 47 to defend themselves against attacks by criminals and bandits.
Speaking in an interactive session with newsmen in Abuja on Friday, the governor reeled out some of his administration’s developmental programmes in his state and dispelled some media reports that he will soon decamp to the All Progressive Congress (APC).
The governor further re-emphasized the need for the Federal Government to enact a law that will put an end to open grazing that has always lead to violent clashes between roaming armed herders and farming communities.
He maintained that government should embrace ranching as it is the global best practice of animal husbandry.
On his paper presentation, titled “Insecurity and Governance Challenges in the New Normal” at the virtual meeting convened by Centre for Values in Leadership (CVL), in collaboration with Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), called on the government to grant licenses to responsible citizens to carry sophisticated weapons such as AK47 to deter criminals from attacking innocent and helpless Nigerians.
Governor Ortom on Friday explained that it is predicated on genuine and passionate reasons to curb insecurity and other acts of criminality in the country.
For instance, he said the policy should be backed by a strict legal framework to prevent illegal possession of arms by the citizenry without exception.
According to him, “My call was genuine. It was made out of passion for security in Benue state and Nigeria. It is not a new thing. I am not calling for a new policy, I am just asking for an upgrade of the existing policy on gun licensing in Nigeria.
“This is because of the level of sophistication of criminal activities, banditry, and terrorism that is going on. Right now, the policy on ground for firearms is at the Local Government level, which is entitled to issue license for firearms limited to Dane guns.
“At the state and national level, the policy is for the issuance of license for double-barrel rifles, pump-action machine. You can agree with me that there is no way, AK 47 can compete with Dane guns and double barrel riffles or even pump-action machine.
“So, at least, the criminals, terrorists, and bandits will now know that when they are visiting to attack, to kill and to destroy property and steal, the people around there have sophisticated weapons like they have, then, they themselves will exercise caution.
“So for me, the call was well and genuinely calling on government to see if we can issue license. Those who feel that it will bring anarchy, I say that already, we have an existing policy on ground so, it is just an upgrade because of the sophistication of criminality.
“In the 1950s and 1960s, we never had AK 47 and killing people in the manner that is happening today, so, for me, I am saying that as Governor of Benue State, I will write to the presidency who has the authority to see to the process legislation or policy that can allow people to carry arms and it is to the best interest of the country because of insecurity Is the major problem in the country and not hunger.
“Nobody is talking about economy again. How can you go and borrow money from the bank to invest in a business only to be killed the next day?
“So, as Nigerians, we must find a way just like we did in Benue State. For us, we have come to say no to jihadists who came hiding under Fulani herdsmen. We said no because we saw it from the beginning because the people are not coming to rear cattle, they are coming to take over land and they did not hide it, they said it at different conferences.”
On the other hand, Ortom admitted that though he was approached to return to the APC by some stakeholders of the party, after diligent consultation with his people, he has refused and still remains a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).