LAGOS, 10 March 2021 – The state of Niger in north-central Nigeria has said it will arm vigilante groups with pump-action rifles, news reports said Tuesday.
The decision is a signal of the deepening insecurity in northern parts of Nigeria and a confession that the regular armed and security forces are unable to tackle it effectively.
Armed groups across the country are using AK-47 assault rifles to perpetrate kidnappings and hostage taking followed by ransom payments.
The bandits “are using AK-47, GMPGS and more recently RPGs,” said Nnamdi Obasi, a senior advisor on Nigeria at the International Crisis Group (ICG).
The ICG considers that arming and “sending people with double-barrel guns and pump-action guns to go face” bandits armed with such sophisticated weapons is only likely to escalate the insecurity crisis.
“It is a very unequal match and it’s going to lead to a more complicated situation than we have at the moment,” Nnamdi Obasi added.
Vast expanses of Nigeria are without any administrative officers and without security forces.