By our reporter| The presidency on Tuesday said no state has been issued authorisation to procure automatic weapons for its security outfit.
Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, who made the disclosure in a statement, said the illegal possession of automatic weapons and AK-47 remains illegal in the country.
The reaction follows last week’s statement by Ondo state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, governor of Ondo state, stating that if the federal government can allow a security outfit in Katsina to carry arms, then Amotekun should be granted the same right.
“The Presidency wishes to strongly assert that there is no state, not Katsina, not any other state in the federation, that has been authorized to procure automatic weapons for their security outfits,” the statement reads.
“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.”
The presidency however said neither Katsina nor Ondo is allowed to purchase automatic weapons for security outfits.
“Under the existing regulations, only the Office of the National Security Adviser can issue such authorization, upon proper clearance by the President and Commander-in-Chief and as it is at this moment, no such approvals have been issued to any state government,” the presidency said.
“In the specific Katsina State often cited, the Governor, Aminu Bello Masari wrote to explain that the administration invited the Provost of the Civil Defence Training College in Katsina to train their Vigilantes for a five-day period…. “in the handling and operations of Pump Action Rifles,” emphasizing that “the Vigilantes were not trained to take over the responsibilities of the security agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria but to assist them.”
The presidency added that it “appreciates the active involvement of states with security matters. As they continue to expand their capabilities as well as their active collaboration with law enforcement agencies of the federation, the joint efforts continue to yield good results, thwarting attempts of terrorists to wreak havoc and destruction on communities”.
President Muhammadu Buhari was quoted as saying he has received reports “of acts of utmost bravery and professionalism” by operatives of state security outfits.
“He thanks them for their alertness that is helping to defeat nefarious plots against targets at grassroots levels,” the statement added.
Furthermore, the presidency called on leaders at various levels “to exercise restraint in their speech, even as we are in a political season”.