Against the background of demand by the Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, to arm Amotekun operatives with AK-47 rifles, the Presidency, yesterday, warned governors against the decision to authorise the procurement of automatic weapons for their security outfits, declaring that Katsina State, which had often been cited by Akeredolu has not been given approval to issue automatic weapons to its vigilantes.
The Presidency, in a statement signed by Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, categorically declared that nobody has such latitude, except with the express permission of the National Security Adviser (NSA). It said the law enforcement agencies have been given directives to deal with any such violation.
The statement made available to newsmen reads: “The Presidency wishes to strongly assert that there is no state, not Katsina, not any other state in the federation, that has been authorised to procure automatic weapons for their security outfits.
“Under this administration, the President has repeatedly made it clear that nobody is allowed to illegally carry AK-47 or any other automatic weapons and that they must surrender them. Where they fail to do so, the law enforcement agencies have been given clear directives to deal with any such outlaws.
“Under the existing regulations, only the Office of the National Security Adviser can issue such authorisation, upon proper clearance by the President and Commander-in-Chief and as it is at this moment, no such approvals have been issued to any state government.
“In the specific Katsina often cited, the governor, Aminu Bello Masari, wrote to explain that the administration invited the Provost of the Civil Defence Training College in Katsina to train their Vigilantes for a five-day period in the handling and operations of Pump Action Rifles, emphasizing that the Vigilantes were not trained to take over the responsibilities of the security agencies of the Federal Government but to assist them.”
Continuing, the Presidency said it appreciates the active involvement of states with security matters. He, however, cautions against the politicisation of security.
“Government at the centre with a national mandate cannot afford to alienate Ondo or any other state for that matter on the important issue of security and urges leaders at various levels to exercise restraint in their speech, even as we are in a political season,” the statement added.