Zamfara State Government has released criteria for civilians to have access to guns in the state.
This is as the government throws more light on its earlier directive that civilians should be granted access to firearms to defend themselves against bandit terrorists.
Zamfara State has recorded quite a disturbing number of bandit attacks in recent times. Kidnapping and killings of innocent citizens have become a business of the day in the Northern state.
The state government in a bid to curtail the incessant attacks, announced last weekend that civilians would now be allowed to acquire guns to defend themselves.
Governor Bello Matawalle’s led government said it would dispatch 500 gun licensing application forms to the 19 emirates of the state, making a total of 9,500 potential guns as it directs the state’s commissioner of police to issue the licence to willing people.
The announcement has attracted a barrage of reactions across the board as citizens expresse their different view on the handling of firearms.
Clarifying the government’s declaration, the State Commissioner of Information, Ibrahim Dosara, said while speaking on a Channels TV programme on Monday that the announcement does not confer an automatic right on all interested people to have access to firearms.
Dosara said: “The process that we set in is a clean process. We started by saying let people who are wishing to obtain legitimate weapons come to fill out the forms.
“They are to be scrutinised and screened at their localities by their traditional rulers to ensure that no wrong hand or somebody with criminal records is given the licence to obtain a gun.
“When we fill these forms, we take them to the Commissioner of Police to do his own investigations and also screen the people before he forwards (the request) to the Inspector-General of Police who will then finally consider approving and giving the licence.
“So, we are following a legitimate process to make sure that our people are given legitimate weapons to protect themselves.”
He explained further that the government see the decision as necessary considering that it is already rainy season and farmers would want to return to their farms and ensure food security in the community and in the nation.
He also noted that the frantic decision was important following the recent upsurge in some parts of the state where criminals have been attacking people almost on daily basis.
Dosara said the situation in Zamfara State was war-like, especially in five local government areas, and deserved to be treated specially.
Naija News understands that self-help community volunteer forces, known as Yan Sakai, in Hausa, have been pushing back the bandits amid criticism of high-handedness and extrajudicial killings.
The state government said those who eventually get the licence would be monitored closely.