By Terese Tse
The Benue Governor, Samuel Ortom, has always been a pacesetter for his bold and courageous suggestions. This should not be misconstrued with having any ethnic, religious or political undertone. Rather; he should be given a pat on the back by every compatriot for that attribute. This proposal was greeted with a lot of applause, which means that he speaks the minds of millions of the voiceless Nigerians.
Security anarchy in Nigeria today, is staring in the faces of its citizens as a result of the present lax in leadership at the top, so we can no longer wait but resort to self protection as this menace has reached a disturbing point.
Self protection had always been a tradition of the people in the ancient times. Our ancestors were known to have had protective weapons like the swords, axes, machetes etc at their disposal for security purposes because firearms like guns and other explosives were yet to be invented. So there is need to be in alignment with the stand of Governor Ortom, that Nigerians should be licensed to possess firearms like the AK-47 with requisite legal approval.
Hon. Baba Acka (Politician)
I do not support the call that individuals be given the license to carry guns. There is no doubt that the level of insecurity, especially the coordinated unprovoked attacks, armed robbery and other crimes are on the rise. However, as a nation, Nigeria is not yet ripe for that because of the level of impunity and flagrant abuse of law and order. Ethnic and other sentiments have also eaten deep into the bond of unity of the country.
Since the elites and the political class do not live by example, it will be very difficult to live according to the terms guiding licensing of the guns. Even in developed nations that have attained civilization decades of years ago, it is common for one to hear stories of killings and other crimes regardless of the conditions given them for use of such guns by their governments which allowed them to do so.
The time to agitate for Nigerians, just like citizens of any other African country to carry the guns is not now, rather, what we need now is value orientation. There should be a conscious question of who we are and what we are and also why we need each other to live and succeed.
Mr Christopher Nyamtu (Journalist)
Governor Samuel Ortom has traveled to villages that have been ransacked by the armed militia and armed herdsmen in this state. And while appreciating the role the security operatives are playing in tackling the insecurity challenges, he still feels that if more of these families that are now displaced from their ancestral homes were also with their weapons, perhaps they would have successfully defended and protected their lives and properties.
This view is triggered by the frustrations of seeing the armed militia and the armed herdsmen walk freely with their guns without any arrests made on any of them, while others are not allowed some of such preferential treatment of freely possessing same, and that is why it is generating such calls and suggestions. Attackers who are on rampage are usually emboldened, when they know that their victims have no guns to stop them from carrying out their heinous attacks on them.
Governor Ortom reasons that if individuals with no questionable characters are allowed to bear arms, it would help reduce some of these attacks.
Hon. Raymond Magen (Politician)
I have a different view to that assertion and possibly would want to advise that the guns should be allocated to only those that are trained physically, psychologically and mentally to handle it. Carrying the guns does not stop crimes rather, it leads to committing more murder, other crimes and even sporadic shootings because there would be enough of it in circulation for use and people would also use it indiscriminately. Although we all know that the police alone cannot deal with the insecurity challenges in the country, and that because they react only when they are convinced, I have the notion that licensing people to own the guns will make our society tougher.
Many think having a gun makes them safer but that is not true too. There is a common belief that having a gun in your room or possessing one for yourself, protects you from the criminal elements but that also is not true. Having the guns in circulation have been linked to the cause of the increase in culpable homicide and suicide. So on my part, I do not subscribe to the call and suggestion.
Miss Cynthia Sunday A. (Seamstress)
I personally do not support the idea. This is because Nigeria and Benue State in particular, is not mentally, consciously and constitutionally matured to handle such policies. If citizens are allowed to move freely with weapons in the name of self defense, there would be a lot of chaos and criminality in the society. The guns will be used uncontrollably without any reproach.
Think of the incessant communal crises in our society over little portions of land, the political thuggery, the high rate of youth unemployment resulting to mass poverty as well as the personal hatred among relatives. You will agree with me that if the citizens are allowed to carry guns indiscriminately, there would be a high rate of gruesome killings.
In America where citizens are allowed to carry weapons, there is solid security architecture and practical application of the law, yet there are situations where some people still go on the streets and other places killing people unjustly, let alone our society where almost everything works haphazardly. If we try, there would be an outcry to rescind the decision immediately.
Mr Kennedy Ikyegh (Artisan)
I personally look at the call by His Excellency, Governor Samuel Ortom on the government to isue licenses to people in the society to own AK-47 Riffles for self defense as a welcome development. This is owing to the fact of the rampant cases of insecurity in the country today, most especially now that, one wakes up every day, to hear cases of kidnap or abduction of people and the demand for ransom worth millions of naira before they are released by their abductors.
The cases of armed robbery have become the order of the day, as no day passes by that you don’t hear a case of robbery in Makurdi or elsewhere in the country. Governor Ortom in conjunction with the security agencies are trying their best but the recent cases of incessant armed herdsmen attacks leading to loss of lives and destruction of properties worth billions of naira in the country and Benue in particular is becoming unbearable.
The herder’s disobedience to Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law in the hinter lands alone is a enough reason that license to own AK-47 should be granted.