A Nigerian state governor has urged citizens to acquire weapons to defend themselves from armed criminal gangs carrying out kidnappings for ransom.
Aminu Masari, the governor of the north-western Katsina state, blamed citizens for the continued attacks by armed gangs.
He said the attackers were emboldened by what he called people’s ‘’meek submission’’ to their threats.
The governor made the comments on Tuesday during a visit to the town of Jibia – one of the communities affected by recent violence.
Nigeria’s defence minister was severely criticised for making similar remarks in February.
Many see these comments by senior officials as public admissions of the government’s failure to deal with the insecurity – and a way of shifting responsibility on to members of the public.
Critics say encouraging people to get weapons to confront heavily armed groups may further complicate Nigeria’s widespread security problems.
In the last couple of years, armed gangs, locally referred to as bandits, have abducted thousands of people for ransom – including schoolchildren.
The violence has seen many people killed and millions have fled from their homes