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Zamfara Goes For The Gun

FILE: Representative illustration of a 9mm Glock 43 semiautomatic handgun. Photo taken 6.17.21

Nigeria's Zamfara State will start issuing licenses to individuals to carry guns to defend themselves against armed gangs of kidnappers causing havoc in the country's northwest, the state's commissioner for information said on Sunday.

Ibrahim Magaji Dosara, Zamfara commissioner for information said the state governor had directed the state police commissioner to issue 500 gun licences in each of the 19 emirates in the state to those wishing to defend themselves.

"Government is ready to facilitate people, especially our farmers to secure basic weapons for defending themselves," Dosara said in a statement.

Owning a gun in Zamfara needs permission from the state governor and state police commissioner.

Zamfara officials say the OK to carry deadly weapons is a response to the armed gangs that are rife across Nigeria's northwest, where they rob or kidnap for ransom, and violence has been increasing.

Nigeria's security forces are stretched fighting an Islamist insurgency in the northeast of the country, leaving individual states to rely on vigilante groups to tackle the bandits, who move in large numbers on motorcycles.

The gunmen, known locally as bandits, operate from remote forests and their deadly attacks and kidnappings, targeting villagers, farmers and travelers, have increased since the start of the year. Zamfara and neighboring Kaduna are the most affected, authorities say.

Dosara said Zamfara will recruit additional community protection guards across the state to help to fight the bandits while the state will also set up a new paramilitary unit commanded by a retired police commissioner.

The state also banned the use of motorcyles and selling of petrol in three districts and one emirate, in areas which are the most affected by banditry, Dosara said. The state is divided into emirates and the emirates into districts.

"Anybody found riding motorbike within the areas is considered as bandits and security agencies are thereby directed to shoot such persons at sight," said Dosara.