Nigeria’s lower legislative chamber on Tuesday cautioned public officials against making incendiary statements about the farmer-herder crisis.
This is coming on the heels of a comment made by Bala Mohammed, Governor of Bauchi State, that was believed to have justified the illegal bearing of firearms by some herdsmen who have been accused of killings and kidnappings in some parts of the country.
Mohammed’s statement had sparked public outrage with many calling on the Federal Government to double down efforts on stopping arms proliferation.
During the plenary on Tuesday, Dachung Bagos, a member of the House representing Jos federal constituency, moved a motion to stop public officials, like Governor Mohammed, from making comments that could plunge the country into a deeper crisis than what it is facing currently.
Bagos noted that the country’s constitution does not grant any private individual or group the right to bear sophisticated arms except with a license by the Inspector General of Police.
“Even if the IG were to grant licences, the IG’s power cannot contravene the provisions of Chapter F28 LFN 004 Fire Arms Act which classifies the arms (AK47) carried by Fulani herdsmen, as ascribed by the Bauchi State Governor, as illegal and prohibited,” the lawmaker said.
“The inflammatory and divisive statement by the governor will lead to the erroneous belief that the government supports the perpetrated crimes of carrying prohibited firearms.
“The situation can easily lead to armed conflict as other groups such as farmers and defenceless citizens will consider it as a threat to their safety and opt to arm themselves with AK47.
“If all public officials, regardless of their position or status, are not cautioned against inciting or provoking the general public, the already tense situation in the country will lead to open hostilities.”
The House resolved that the leadership should interface with Nigerian Governors Forum as most of these inflammatory and divisive statements were coming from the association’s members.
Senate Wants Stiffer Sanctions For Illegal Arms Possession
Meanwhile, Ahmad Lawan, the Senate President, on Tuesday, advocated stiffer penalties for anyone caught in illegal possession of firearms in the country.
Reacting to the country’s security woes, he said illegal proliferation of firearms has continued to cause more damage in the country.
Lawan said this shortly after the upper House considered a bill seeking to amend the Firearms Act, 2004.
“The security situation would have been far better, if we were able to control the proliferation of firearms in the country,” he said.
“This bill, like the sponsor mentioned, was passed in the 8th Senate. Now that we have brought it back, when it will be referred to the Committee – Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters – they should engage with the executive arm of government to see where the issue is, if that has not been done by the sponsor of the bill.
“But, I believe that there is no compromise for stiffer penalties for anyone caught with an illegal arm.”
The Senate President expressed the willingness of the legislature to ensure an improved security situation for Nigerians.
“The security situation can still be reversed, once we continue to remain focused and committed. And, for us in the National Assembly, it has been a very difficult time, probably the most difficult time, because our people face these daily security challenges, and the question is always, what are you people doing?” he asked.
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