‘We Are Sitting Ducks’: Nigerian Activist Calls on Government to Legalize Gun Ownership

‘We Are Sitting Ducks’: Nigerian Activist Calls on Government to Legalize Gun Ownership


What You Need To Know:

Nigerian human rights activist Adebayo Raphael, has today released a 15 point statement on X, (formally known as Twitter) calling on the Tinubu Government to legalize gun ownership in the nation. 

Raphael, an author and outspoken critic of both the Buhari and Tinubu administrations, claimed in his statement’s final point, “The right to self-defense and protection of property and family must cease to be the preserve of the rich, powerful, and connected in Nigeria. It is time for Nigeria to democratize access to the legal purchase, ownership, and use of firearms and ammunition. “

“Only equal access and opportunity to legally purchase, own, and use firearms and ammunition can save ordinary Nigerians from this violent siege by Islamist terrorists, etc. Since the Nigerian state can no longer protect the people, it is time for the people to protect themselves.” 

Since 2009, Nigeria has been plagued by attacks and kidnappings from the radical islamic group Boko Haram, and more recently, incursions in its northeastern regions from ISIS West Africa Province (ISWAP) militants. Furthermore, conflict between farmers in the country’s North Central and Middle Belt regions has claimed lives for decades. 


A Reasonable Response?: 

Currently, Nigerian law carries a minimum of ten-years imprisonment for unlawful possession of a firearm or ammunition. Only the President or Inspector-General of Police may grant a license to manufacture, repair, or possess a firearm. 

According to a 2016 Premium Times article, Nigeria accounts for 70% of the 500 million weapons circulating West Africa, something Adebayo touches on before stating, “The police-to-population ratio in Nigeria is grossly insufficient at less than 150 police officers for every 100,000 Nigerians, despite the creation of the Special Intervention Squad by the Acting Inspector General of Police in mid-2023…it is time to declare a state of emergency on insecurity in Nigeria.” 

Illegal arms cache uncovered in Kintampo, Bono East. CNR


The Details: 

Titled “Nigerians Under Siege: Time To Legalize and Democratize Gun Ownership in Nigeria”, Raphael’s statement in point one through nine focuses on the failings of the Tinubu Government. 

The aforementioned points are outlined here: 

  1. “The Nigerian State has failed in its primary responsibility to ensure the security and welfare of the Nigerian people as mandated in section 14 (2) (b) of the Nigerian constitution as amended. More than any other time since the beginning of the Fourth Republic, the last ten years have exposed the disgraceful ineptitude of the Nigerian security apparatus to protect Nigerians all over the country.
  2. Rather than protect Nigerians to the utmost degree, the Nigerian State in the last ten years and its political class have validated the prevailing suspicion that the Nigerian people have become mere sitting ducks for the government, terrorists, and violent criminals.
  3. This suspicion was recently validated when the Nigerian Army, under the commandership of the Chief of Army Staff, Taoreed Lagbaja, recklessly killed more than 120 innocent civilians in a peaceful religious gathering in Tudun Biri, Kaduna State. Neither the Chief of Army Staff nor anyone else in the current government of renewed hopelessness has been penalized for the two coordinated airstrikes that reduced humans and people’s homes to ashes.
  4. The Nigerian Air Force, during the disastrous regime of General Buhari, killed hundreds of civilians in a similar fashion without the state taking responsibility.
  5. In the first quarter of 2023 alone, nearly 2,000 innocent civilians were brutally killed by Islamist terrorists in 34 of the 36 states of Nigeria. The rest of the year followed the same pattern, with a staggering surge in kidnapping activities. Among those murdered were farmers working hard to feed their families and the entire country, as well as autochthons in numerous communities across the country, particularly in the middle belt.
  6. Between the inauguration of the incumbent President of Nigeria Bola Tinubu in May 2023 and December 2023, over 5000 Nigerians were viciously slaughtered by Fulani herders and Islamist terrorists across the country. These terrorists have become so bold that they now invade and overrun tens of sleepy villages and communities simultaneously, commit atrocities including the rape of young and elderly women and men, kidnap for ransom or forcible conversion, and leave in their wake a bloody trail of human carnage.
  7. On Christmas Eve of 2023, over 150 Christians were savagely slaughtered in Plateau State while thousands were displaced from their homes and ancestral land without any immediate assistance from the security apparatus of the Nigerian state.
  8. Likewise, we are barely halfway through the first month of 2024 and Islamist terrorists are already slaughtering Christians and other residents for failing to pay “terror levies” in villages gripped by the reign of terror of these vicious Islamists in the middle belt.
  9. Similarly, kidnappers have taken over major highways and cities, including the Federal Capital Territory, ransoming and killing citizens with reckless abandon and forcing the rest of the country to crowdfund for the release of the abducted.”

Kidnapping as a means for financial gain in the country rose to prominence in the early 2000s. Employed by Niger Delta militants as well as Boko Haram, who garnered international media attention after a mass kidnapping of schoolgirls from Chibok, Borno State in 2014. Kidnappings in the nation have not subsided, with SBM Intelligence data highlighting 3,620 reported kidnappings between June 2022 and July 2023. 

Raphael claims the way forward is the legalization of firearms as well as the democratization of the process to access firearms. Civilians with the ability to protect themselves hamper the abilities of those with unsavory motives. 

Would arming the populous help Nigeria? Let us know what you think. 


Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger is a Political Science Graduate from the University of Otago, New Zealand. Currently working as an Editor for The ModernInsurgent and writing for Atlas News, her interests include conflict politics, history, yoga and meditation.
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