Nigerian Governor Orders Mass Issuance Of Gun Permits To Counter Murderous Hordes
Gun permits have rarely been issued in Nigeria—but that's about to change.
In the face of rampant violence by huge gangs of heavily armed bandits, one state governor has ordered the mass issuance of gun permits to citizens desperate for a chance to protect themselves.
For over a decade, Nigerians living in the country's northwestern states have endured an endless plague of looting, kidnapping and murder at the hands of gangs and ethnic militias, which Nigerians call bandits. The violence has taken its steepest toll on the states of Zamfara and Kaduna.
The bandits operate from bases in remote forests where terrain makes offensive operations by Nigerian security forces more difficult and dangerous. In addition, "Nigeria's security forces are stretched fighting an Islamist insurgency in the northeast of the country, leaving individual states to rely on vigilante groups to tackle the bandits," reports Reuters.
In addition to the money they gain through robbery and kidnapping, the bandits also control gold mines, giving them additional resources to fund weapons purchases.
Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton helped give Nigeria's murderous bandits a powerful advantage over citizens and police alike. The collapse of Libya's government after the U.S.-NATO-led regime change war boosted the flow of military weapons throughout West Africa. According to a 2016 OXFAM report, Libya's illicit arms market has enabled online purchase of rifles, heavy machine guns, rocket-launchers, anti-tank guided missiles and grenade launchers.
With government increasingly incapable of stopping the onslaught, the bandits have been emboldened. In early January, some 200 people were killed in Zamfara as bandits used violence on civilians as a form of retaliation for government airstrikes on their base. In a two-day orgy of violence, up to nine villages were attacked, with bandits shooting villagers while looting and burning their homes.
Last week, bandits attacked two churches in the neighboring Kaduna state, killing eight people and kidnapping 38.
And now, Bello Matawalle, the governor of Zamfara state, has decided his citizens deserve at least a fighting chance against formidable foes. Specifically, the governor ordered the police commissioner to issue 500 licenses in each of the state's 19 emirate subdivisions.
"Government is ready to facilitate people, especially our farmers, to secure basic weapons for defending themselves," said Ibrahim Magaji Dosara, Zamfara information commissioner.
Perhaps betraying an affinity for gun control—even in as desperate a situation as that faced by Nigerians—Associated Press couldn't help but strike a skeptical tone: "It was not yet clear how arming citizens would help prevent the attacks; authorities have admitted that even the Nigerian police are sometimes overwhelmed during violent attacks."
The expansion of gun ownership is one of a variety of measures against the marauders. Others include the closure of gas stations in particularly dangerous areas, and a ban of motorcycles, which are integral to the bandits' modus operandi. Upwards of 300 or more motorcyclists descend on villages at once, typically with both an armed rider and an armed passenger.
"Anybody found riding a motorbike within the areas [are] considered bandits and security agencies are thereby directed to shoot such persons at sight," said Dosara.