The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, has denied calling for the arming of all Nigerians, amid the crisis of kidnapping and banditry in the country.
Ortom explained that he only called for responsible Nigerians to be given licence to own guns.
The governor was reacting to a report titled “Governor Ortom’s double speak,” over the issue of Nigerians owning guns.
A statement by Ortom’s spokesman, Tever Akase said the governor’s recent charge to Benue youths was to encourage them to support security operatives with timely and useful information to enable them win the war against insecurity.
According to the statement, Ortom did not ask the “people to take the law into their own hands.’
The statement reads: “We read an opinion piece by one Awunah Pius Terwase with the title ‘Governor Ortom’s Double Speak’ in which the writer stated that the Benue State Governor contradicted himself with his call for licensing of some persons to own guns after he had previously disarmed Benue youths who carried weapons.
“The writer was either out to cause mischief or was at a loss regarding the facts of Governor Ortom’s stand on the issue of gun licensing.
“The Governor did not call for the arming of every Nigerian. He was specific that responsible Nigerians be given licenses to own weapons as this will deter criminals from easily attacking and robbing or even killing people.
“Governor Ortom’s call was genuine as it was premised on the fact that many lives are being lost due to criminal acts that could have been averted.
“We expect the writer of the said piece to look at the merits of the Governor’s call in the face of increased kidnappings, armed banditry and herdsmen attacks in many states with the attendant negative effect on the country.
“As the Governor explained, the issuance of licenses on light weapons is a policy that has been in existence, but over the years, criminals who illegally acquire arms take advantage of that to get away with a number of atrocities. Governor Ortom’s call was therefore a patriotic reminder to the Federal Government to act fast and grant responsible Nigerians permission to own sophisticated weapons for self defense.
“The amnesty programme initiated by Governor Ortom was aimed at disarming criminals who were terrorizing the state, not responsible people. The category of people who embraced the scheme and surrendered their arms admitted to committing heinous crimes and begged for pardon with a promise to turn a new leaf.
“We wonder why anyone would intentionally want to twist facts to achieve his target.”