Our reporter| Governor Samuel Ortom on Thursday said Benue people will determine if the state community volunteer guards will be allowed to carry AL-47 rifles, even as he issued a one-month ultimatum to the federal government to approve a licence for operatives of the outfit to carry the rifle.
Ortom, who spoke in Makurdi, at the passing out parade of batch B of the Benue State Community Volunteer Guards, said he applied for a licence for the state-owned security outfit to bear AK-47 rifles three months ago but the federal government has not responded to him.
The people, he said, will make a categorical decision on the matter in the next month if the federal government continues its refusal.
According to Ortom, the state security outfit was set up to complement efforts by the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies in curbing surging crimes and killings in the state.
While making the case for the creation of state police, he explained that the decentralisation of the current policing system in the country will go a long way to address the worsening security challenges of kidnapping and terrorism ubiquitous across Nigeria.
“Towards this aim, the 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, he said.
“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 to also show in the ways to maintain and sustain our lives and nationhood.”
Ortom said he has a responsibility to protect his people and he has therefore approached the Federal Government to get approval to procure assault rifles to stamp out daring bandits and terrorists in his state.
“I’ve on behalf of the Benue State Government applied to the 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 up to its responsibility of protecting the people so that the senseless killings of security agents and civilians will 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, amongst others have been killed by terrorists in Benue.