ZAMFARA State Police Commissioner Ayuba Elkana has said he cannot issue gun licences to residents of the state.
The CP spoke in response to the Zamfara State government’s directive that the police command should issue gun licences to residents who are eligible to bear arms.
However, in an interview with PUNCH, the police commissioner said the embargo on firearms is still in force, noting that the police has stopped issuing a licences to citizens who wish to own guns.
He also said he has not received any directive to issue gun licenses.
“I have not received any directives, and also, there is a ban on firearms licence, and we don’t give licence. I am yet to receive any directive. Let me see the directive first before I can comment. I have not seen the directive, so I cannot comment on compliance.”
The CP also said the government’s call on residents to bear arms for self defense was not a vote of no confidence on the police.
“There is nothing like a vote of no confidence, please. This is a farming season, and you cannot get police or any security to be following everybody to the farm.
“They are attacking people on the farm; that is the problem. It is not as if we are not doing our best; we are doing our best. Of recent, we rescued many people (from bandits),” Elkana said.
The Zamfara state government had called on residents to arm themselves with weapons against bandits.
The call came in a statement issued by the Commissioner for Information, Ibrahim Dosara, in Gusau, the state capital.
Reacting to the security challenges in the state, the state government said it was “ready to facilitate people, especially farmers, to secure basic weapons for defending themselves”.
It also directed the state police command to issue gun licences to all persons deemed qualified and willing to obtain firearms to defend themselves.
The government ordered the recruitment of 200 additional community protection guards in each of the 19 emirates to strengthen security across the state.
The statement issued by the Zamfara State government said, “Following the increase in the activities of bandits in various parts of the state and the government’s commitment to ensure adequate security and protection of lives and property of the citizenry in the state, particularly during this rainy season, the government has resolved to take further measures to deal with the recent escalating attacks, kidnapping and the criminal levies being enforced on our innocent communities.
“This act of terrorism has been a source of worry and concern to the people and government of the state. Therefore, to deal decisively with the situation in our respective communities, the government has no option but to take the following measures:
“The government has, henceforth, directed individuals to prepare and obtain guns to defend themselves against the bandits, as the government has directed the state Commissioner of Police to issue licences to all those who qualify and are wishing to obtain such guns to defend themselves.
“Government is ready to facilitate people, especially our farmers, to secure basic weapons for defending themselves.
“The government has already concluded arrangements to distribute 500 forms to each of the 19 emirates in the state for those willing to obtain guns to defend themselves.
“People must apply from the Commissioner of Police for a licence to own guns and other basic weapons to be used in defending themselves.”
Zamfara is one of the states worst hit by banditry in the country. It has the second-highest number of deaths caused by non-state actors in the first quarter of 2022, with 327 cases.