From Ahmad Ibrahim, Gusau
Zamfara State Government has ordered 7,000 guns for operatives of the Community Protection Guards (CPGs) who will be deployed in rural communities and villages to protect residents from bandits.
This was disclosed by the media aide to the state governor, Alhaji Zailani Bappa. According to him, the state would assist the guards to process their firearms licences with the police.
He explained that the men would be armed and dispatched to their communities after their training by the police.
He said: “Right now, members of the first batch of the guards are being trained by the police at the police training college. “But already, the governor has supplied the guards with 1,500 motorcycles and 20 Hilux vans to start with and the government will assist them to apply for a licence to own guns legitimately.
“They would individually apply as citizens of Nigeria; the government would only assist them. “The idea is that every youth endorsed as a good citizen by the community leaders would be given the opportunity to apply for a licence to own guns and defend their communities before the military comes, in case of any attacks. “So, we want to employ at least 7,000 of them across the state because we have so many villages.
“The problem we are facing is this: the military and the police are so overstretched. “So, some bandits would come and do whatever they want to do in the villages before the military arrives.”
Alhaji Bappa explained that many villages and rural communities are beyond the reach of the security forces, noting that the CPGs would act as the first line of defence during attacks by terrorists.
He added: “Members of the CPGs are living in the community; they would be the first line of defence to defend their communities before the military comes in. “This is the essence of the programme.
The firearms and licence would be procured for every member of the community who is endorsed by the community and local chairman as a person of good character.” Giving an overview of the security measures and the progress recorded so far, the media aide explained that Governor Bello Matawalle reached an understanding with the bandits to surrender their arms leading to the recovery of 1,000 weapons.
Alhaji Bappa stated that the governor secured the approval of the Chief of Air Staff, the Chief of Army Staff and the Inspector- General of Police before meeting with the bandits