“Who approved the use of AK-47 for Katsina Vigilantes?” – Akeredolu fires back at FG

Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State on Wednesday replied to the presidency on the use of automatic weapons for regional and state security outfits.

The presidency on Tuesday said it had not granted approval for the use of arms and ammunition for any state or regional security outfit.

Garba Shehu, Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, stated this in a statement, adding that no state has been authorised to procure automatic weapons for their security outfits.

According to the statement, only the National Security Adviser (NSA) is empowered to authorise the use of arms and ammunition by security outfits, following proper clearance by the President and Commander-In-Chief.

“Under this administration, the President has repeatedly made it clear that nobody is allowed to illegally carry AK-47 or any other automatic weapons and that they must surrender them.”

But reacting to the claims of the presidency, Akeredolu through his Chief Press Secretary, Richard Olatunde, asked the federal government where the guns seen with Katsina vigilantes in a viral video came from.

“Who approved their use? Were the guns returned to the armoury after use?” he also asked.

In the statement titled: “Gov Akeredolu resolve is to spare no effort in protecting the people,” the governor said the reasons adduced by Garba Shehu for the continued refusal to approve of the use of sophisticated weapons by state security outfits can no longer be plausible in the face of increasing security challenges being faced by the people.

He reiterated his determination to go to any length to protect the people of his state, vowing to explore all available legal and constitutional means to secure the state and its people.

He added that the assertion made by Shehu on the use of automatic weapons by state security outfits betrays the current realities across the country.

“His attempt to justify the use of AK-47 by the vigilantes of Katsina State for training stands logic on its head,” he said.

The statement partly read, “The report by the TVC News that went viral showed the Kastina State Vigilante training with AK47. This is the same weapon which approval has vehemently been refused for the use of Amotekun Corps and other State Security Outfits.

“The questions Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, asks are: Where did the guns come from? Who approved their use? Were the guns returned to the armoury after use? The AK47, as seen from the TVC news report, was about usage. If not, what purpose does training with the guns serve?

“It is rather suspicious that Garba Shehu elected himself as the spokesperson for the Kastina State government. Whereas, the Katsina State has not come out openly to deny the statement of Governor Akeredolu on the use of AK47 by Vigilantes of Katsina State during training.”

It added, “Governor Akeredolu has reiterated that State Security outfits backed by law whether in Western Nigeria, Katsina, Borno, Benue or any Northern State must have access to the same sophisticated weapons that the criminals have. It is time to face down these enemies of the people.

“It is illogical to continue to fight hardened marauders who bear sophisticated weaponry to kidnap and maim our people with bare hands. We cannot fight armed enemies of the people with our bare hands.

“It is our firm belief that the government has a fundamental duty to protect the people. It is a task that must be accomplished without excuse.”

The statement noted that the Southern Nigeria Governors Forum, 19 Northern State Governors and Northern Traditional Rulers Council had called for the establishment of state police in the country.

“The call by the sub-national should be heeded and change effected where necessary.

“Every Governor swore to an oath to protect the state and the people. The sub-national must be allowed to put in place security forces as a counter-balancing force to face these marauders who have unchecked access to sophisticated weapons.

“It is high time we tackled these conflict entrepreneurs and restore the confidence of the people. We cannot do the same thing time and again and expect different result.

“Governor Akeredolu is irrevocably committed to the security of the people, particularly his state. He will continue to speak up in defense of the people. He is very much committed to the realization of constitutional amendment to reflect the current realities,” he said.