Benue State governor, Samuel Ortom, yesterday gave the federal government a month’s ultimatum to grant the state the approval to acquire AK-47 rifles for operatives of its vigilante group or the state would do the needful.
Recall that the state government had asked for such approval from the federal government, following incessant killing of farmers in the state by herdsmen, but the Presidency had insisted that no state of the federation had the powers to acquire such weapons.
Speaking at the passing out parade of batch B of the Benue State Community Volunteer Guards in Makurdi yesterday, Ortom said the aim of the state-owned security agency was to complement efforts of the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies in curbing surging crimes and killings in the state.
He also made case for the creation of state police, saying the decentralisation of the current policing system in the country would go a long way to address the worsening security challenges of kidnapping and terrorism across Nigeria.
He explained that the government embarked on increasing the numerical strengthen of the guards from the current 500 personnel who were inaugurated in August, with additional 1,100 in order to enhance effective operation and proper coverage of the state.
The governor said: “Towards this aim, Benue State government has already procured some essential equipment as permitted by law and handed them over to the Nigerian Police for use by Benue State Community Volunteer Guards for effective crime-fighting. Motor vehicles and motorcycles have also been made available.
“I wish to assure you that we will continue to acquire more equipment and weapons that are permitted by law to ensure that you don’t endanger yourself but that you effectively perform in this assignment.
“This giant call towards self-defence is, indeed, a clarion call to all Nigerians of nationalistic and patriotic spirit to rise and not only support our cause but also show in the ways to maintain and sustain our lives and nationhood.”
Ortom said he had a responsibility to protect his people and had, therefore, approached the Federal Government to get approval to procure assault rifles to stamp out daring bandits and terrorists in his state. Vanguard reports.
“I’ve on behalf of Benue State government applied to responsible Federal Government agency for approval to procure automatic weapons, particularly AK-47 assault rifles, to further strengthen your logistic support base and your defence capability.
“I am still waiting for approval from the Federal Government, despite the fact that I have done this application three months ago, and no single reply has been given to me.
“I have a responsibility to the state government and the people of Benue State. If in the next month, there is no reply, I will revert to the people of Benue State, and seek your opinion. Whatever you tell me is what I am going to do,” he noted.
The governor charged the Federal Government to rise to its responsibility of protecting the people, so the senseless killings of security agents and civilians could stop all over the country.
According to him, from 2017 till date, over 120 personnel of the Nigerian Army, the police, and the Department of State Services, DSS, among others, have been killed by terrorists in Benue.
The governor inaugurated the first batch of the security outfit on August 4.