The Presidency has remained silent concerning the controversy trailing the alleged signing of an Executive Order by President Muhammadu Buhari, seeking to mop up guns in the hands of private individuals across the country.
Although no official statement has been issued by the Presidency to authenticate the veracity or otherwise of the reported directive revoking all firearms certificates and licences throughout the federation, many Nigerians have argued that the order, if true, would expose innocent Nigerians and deny them the opportunity of self-defence from the criminal activities of herdsmen, kidnappers, armed robbers and Boko Haram terrorists, among others.
Specifically, recent reports had it that Buhari had signed an Executive Order that revoked private individuals’ licenses on firearms or shotguns in Nigeria. According to the said Order, withdrawal of the licenses was to take effect from June 1 and that all those in possession of such firearms were to have surrendered them at the nearest Police station with the licences.
The withdrawal, according to the reports, would ensure that only officers of the Nigeria Police Force, Nigerian Army and select security agencies are authorised to carry arms.
The reports, which dominated the social and conventional media, had indicated that even civil defence agents and some other security agents would no longer be allowed to carry weapons from June 1.
The President was said to have signed the Executive Order on May 22 in response to threats by some Niger Delta militants to declare a Niger Delta Republic and secede from Nigeria, but The Guardian could not immediately confirm the content of the Order, as presidential media aides, Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu, were not reachable at press time.
While Adesina did not reply to a mail sent to him to comment on the controversy, Shehu could not be reached, as he was said to have travelled out of the country for an official assignment.
Meanwhile, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), pressed on how long it would take the President to assemble a new cabinet and reshuffle his personal aides that do not need the approval of the National Assembly, said Buhari has not breached the law over the delay to appoint his personal aides.
APC’s National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, in a chat with The Guardian, noted: “Has he passed any deadline for the appointment? If no, then the word ‘delay’ is not applicable here. Mr. President will appoint his aides at the appropriate time. So far, he has not broken any law.”
A chieftain of the party and Director General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu, who spoke in the same vein, expressed satisfaction with the performance of the President since he was sworn-in for a second term in office on May 29, maintaining that there was no cause for alarm, since Buhari has been able to oversee the affairs, notwithstanding the fact that he is taking his time to appoint his personal aides.
“One appreciates the anxiety and indeed the expectations of Nigerians that Mr. President should not delay appointments of aides and ministers. However, one is happy that he, in his style, is quietly advancing critical infrastructure and subtly restructuring the polity.
“Methinks the move to give first-line charge to local governments and state judiciary, coupled with State Police is restructuring without wimpier.”
Some Nigerians have expressed concern over the perceived delay by the President to announce replacements or re-appointment of his personal aides, even as some governors, including new ones, have been making appointments since taking office the same May 29.
Their worry might not be misplaced, bearing in mind that it took the President months after assuming office to constitute his cabinet in 2015, a delay that grounded many government decisions and negatively affected many sectors and which many fear could be repeated.