By Faith Nyasuguta
A Nigerian state governor has called on citizens to secure weapons to shield themselves from criminal gangs executing kidnappings for ransom.
North-western Katsina state Governor Aminu Masari, threw the blame on citizens for the ongoing ambushes by armed gangs.
According to him, the attackers were encouraged and emboldened by what he dubbed “meek submission” by the citizens to their threats.
The governor made the remarks on Tuesday evening as he visited Jibia town, an area highly impacted by recent conflict.
In February, the Nigerian defense minister was deeply criticized for making similar comments.
Local residents indicate that such comments from state officials are seen as a public admission of the government’s failure. They further say the state is shifting its responsibility to citizens.
“Encouraging civilians to acquire weapons to confront heavily armed groups may further complicate Nigeria’s widespread security problems,” critics say.
For years now, armed groups locally referred to as bandits, have kidnapped thousands of people, among them school children for ransom.
The ongoing conflict has seen many people killed and millions displaced.