Nigerians Criticise Defence Minister For Saying Villagers Should Defend Themselves

Olayemi Esan, Abuja

Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi (retd.), Nigeria’s Minister of Defence, has been seriously criticised for telling villagers to show bravery by daring bandits.

In a video that went viral on Wednesday, Maj. Gen Magashi said sometimes the bandits attack the villages with only a few rounds of ammunition.

He added that during his youthful days, people stand to resist any aggression that confronted them.

Magashi however said he would not advise the government to legalise firearms for personal use.

The nefarious activities of armed bandits in the North-West region of Nigeria, particularly, Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna, Sokoto and Niger States have become an issue of national concern and international embarrassment.

In the early hours of Wednesday, February 17, bandits abducted at least 27 students of Government Science College in Kagara, Niger state, the attack came three days after 21 passengers on a Niger State Transport Authority bus to Minna were kidnapped.

In December 2020, over 300 boarding school students were abducted from their dormitories in Kankara, Katsina State.

Videos of the kidnappers of the passengers en route Minna showed that the bandits are heavily armed with AK 47 and a rocket propelling grenade (RPG).

Magashi’s comment has generated numerous reactions with many condemning the government’s statement as insensitive.

Below are excerpts of the Minister of Defence's statement and the response from social media users.

Magashi spoke: “It is the responsibility of everybody to keep alert and to find safety when necessary. But we shouldn’t be cowards.

“At times, the bandits will only come with about three rounds of ammunition, when they fire shots everybody runs. In our younger days, we stand to fight any aggression coming for us.

“I don’t know why people are running from minor things like that. They should stand and let these people know that even the villagers have the competency and capabilities to defend themselves.

“Our own duty is to ensure that no Nigerian is hurt, and we are capable of protecting the integrity of this nation and we’ll continue to do it even though we are so stretched.”

Some of the comments from social media users are the following:

“We provide our own jobs, power, water, health and now the minster of defence asks tax paying Nigerians to provide our own security.. So what exactly is the use of the Nigerian govt?”

“How can the Minister of Defence say Nigerians should defend themselves against bandits without legalizing guns for us? Is it kitchen knife or laptop we will use to block bullets?

The Minister of Defence said Nigerians should defend themselves against bandits. Yet same man is against the ownership of guns by private citizens.

So pls how do we defend ourselves?

With bread knife and korkor shoe?

Another commentator said.

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