ABUJA, 18 February 2021 – Nigeria’s Defense Minister Bashir Magashi has encouraged citizens to face up to armed gangs and not just cut and run from them in fear.
“We shouldn’t be cowards” when confronted by gunmen, Magashi told reporters, explaining that armed gangs in the country do not have sufficient ammunition to back the attacks they stage.
The comments are tantamount to encouraging citizens to form vigilante groups to defend themselves and their villages against growing and increasingly bold and deadly attacks by armed gangs.
Nigeria’s defense chief appeared to okay with citizens forming vigilante groups which would enable them to fight back against armed gangs.
While admitting that “it is the responsibility” of every Nigerian “to keep alert and find safety when necessary”, Magashi appeared to mock citizens who flee for safety during armed attacks by bandits.
“When they fire a shot, everybody runs… I don’t know why people run away from a minor thing like that”.
The defense minister encouraged citizens to face up to the armed gangs: “They should stand,” he said. “Let these people know that even the villagers have the competences and capabilities to defend themselves,” the defense boss added.
Magashi’s comments come only a day after gunmen on Wednesday killed a school pupil and abducted 27 other children in a night-time raid on a boarding school in the north-central state of Niger.
Three staff members at the boarding school and 12 of their relatives were also abducted, according to news reports citing the governor of Niger State, Abubakar Sani Bello.
The fate of about 20 people who were abducted from a bus on Monday as they were returning home from a wedding remains unclear.