The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, has ordered state Commissioners of Police to, as a matter of urgency, disarm all militias, vigilantes and other armed protective units set up by state governors across the country.
Idris has warned state governors who have set up such armed security outfits that they have no powers to do so.
The IGP, who gave the warning at a meeting with Commissioners of Police and officers held at the Police Forces Headquarters in Abuja, said the Nigerian constitution has made it clear that only formal security agencies were empowered to carry arms and ammunition.
He said anyone that violates the law under any pretext would be held accountable.
The IGP, however, did not state whether or not the same law applies to Fulani herdsmen, who have been accused of carrying sophisticated weaponry and killing of innocent citizens across the country.
The IGP, who made it clear that it was the responsibility of the police to provide security for citizens of Nigeria, said:
“Everybody is aware we are entering a very tedious and serious situations in this country.
“Political issues are coming up to the fore and I believe officers must gear up in our various locations, in our various responsibilities to ensure that we provide law and order all over Nigerian.
“As police officers, all of us know our duties.
“There is no police commissioner that has served less than 20-25 years
“There are lots of issues that should be considered very seriously.
“We are now coming into a political arena. Commands should be very conversant about the arming of militia men or vigilantes.
“Before a vigilante is established by government, you must have a bye-law, which must be passed by the House of Assembly.
“It is the responsibility of the Commissioners of Police to study these bye-laws and see how it conforms with the constitution and other laws of this country.
“But through the connivance of some police officers you have a command arming militia men under several names; these I think our officers are to brace up to face these challenges.
“No no government in this country has the responsibility to approve prohibited firearms to any Nigerian under any guise.
“And I think it is the responsibility of CP’s of commands to put close watch to the activities of some of these governors that are arming individuals against the laws of this country.
“All of us are aware about these prohibited firearms.
“You cannot give approval to any individual to own a pistol. You cannot give an approval to any individual to own an AK-47, rifle.
“These are prohibited weapons and only the government has that authority to give that approval.
“So I want to call on our Commissioners of Police of various commands: you have to be on the close watch [against] these abuse of authority at various levels.”