Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State on Thursday issued a one-month ultimatum to the Federal Government to give the Benue State Community Volunteer Guards a licence to bear AK-47 rifles.
The governor 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 given him any response.
He said his people will make a categorical decision on the matter in the next month if the Federal Government continues its refusal.
Ortom spoke in Makurdi, the state capital at the passing out parade of batch B of the Benue State Community Volunteer Guards. He inaugurated the first batch on August 4.
Addressing the guards on Thursday, Ortom said the aim of the state-owned security agency is to complement efforts by the Nigeria Police Force and other security agencies in curbing surging crimes and killings in the state.
He also argued for the creation of state police, saying 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.
The governor said, “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.
“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.”
‘I’m Still Awaiting FG’s Approval’
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.
Rise Of State-Owned Security Agencies
Of late, some state governments have come together to establish regional security agencies to halt kidnapping-for-ransom, herdsmen attacks, and banditry, amongst others which continue to plague Nigeria.
Whilst the Amotekun is operational in the South-West since 2020, the five South-East governors established Ebubeagu in 2021 to complement efforts by conventional security agencies.
Like Ortom, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State has continued to call on the Federal Government to give Amotekun Corps a licence to bear arms, saying it is discriminatory for Kastina State Government-owned security agency to be granted the privilege whilst others like Amotekun are denied such status.
However, the Presidency has insisted that no state has the right to procure assault rifles for its security outfit.