The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Taoreed Lagbaja, says allowing Nigerians to carry arms in self-defence against bandits, gunmen, and rampaging killer herdsmen will lead to anarchy.
Mr Lagbaja said this while speaking on Christmas Eve killings across villages in Plateau State that left over 162 dead and scores injured.
Asked whether he supports Plateau State Governor Caleb Mutfwang’s call for locals to defend themselves against rampaging bandits, Mr Lagbaja said such would result in anarchy.
“I do not support that. I think that is a call for anarchy. The Nigerian army is the people’s army. It is organised. Funded with the people’s money to protect lives and property. When you have a situation where people freely carry and use arms, then it becomes a lawless state,” Mr Lagbaja said.
He urged the state’s residents to provide the military with adequate information about incidents.
“They should report incidents. They should assist the military with information so the military can respond as quickly as possible. But to have a situation where people carry arms openly? I do not subscribe to that,” said Mr Lagbaja.
Mr Lagbaja said the Nigerian military has deployed more soldiers and equipment to tackle rising insecurity in Plateau State.
“I have reeled out our plans for 2024 for Plateau State. The troops that we are deploying to Plateau are on their way to Plateau now. This night or first light tomorrow, they should be on the Plateau. We are sending more equipment to enhance the efficiency of the troops,” Mr Lagbaja said.
The army chief’s statement comes amid criticisms elicited by the Christmas Eve attacks on Plateau communities that left over 195 dead and about 34,000 displaced.
Plateau governor, Mr Mutfwang, had warned that incessant attacks on his people could force them to take up arms in self-defence against killer herdsmen terrorising them.
Before Mr Mutfwang, former Katsina Governor Aminu Masari, had charged citizens to rise in self-defence against bandits.