Yeah, yeah – “Firearms, no Politics…” but this is AFRICA! We have a “Killer Bandit” problem.
There is continuing debate on the usefulness of firearm restriction and gun control, especially in the repressed cultures of Africa, and specifically Nigeria. In recent times, there have been a LOT of terrible attacks and killings, on a daily basis, in Nigeria. Obviously, the Boko Haram terrorists driven out from the North East of Nigeria, as well as the bandits that had flowed down from the wars in Libya, the crises in Mali, Chad, and the Niger Republic, have all started trickling down towards the middle and southern parts of Nigeria. As these bandits come further, they come with a wide range of locally fabricated weapons.
Attacks on ordinary people… Everywhere now: not only the North East
Every day, there are disheartening attacks with massive casualties of innocent villagers in remote, defenceless villages and travelers on even major highways. This year 2018 alone, from January 1st up to April 25th, official recorded casualty figures have risen up to more than 400 killed, many of them gruesomely hacked or burnt to death, and up to triple that number injured.
Unfortunately, the citizens see mainly rhetoric and gangster-style response from the Police and Armed forces: with several cases of devastated communities coming under further attack from responding law enforcement [Including air attacks!] or the ubiquitous but completely ineffective “Joint Task Forces” [JTFs].
These JTFs all have fancy names, in most cases linked to some animal or the other. In both English and sometimes in local language: “Operation Dancing Python”, “Operation Crocodile Smile”, “Operation Flying Cat”, and even the sinister “Operation Peace by Force”. Teams of Soldiers and Mobile Police [Nigeria’s SWAT-styled, but NOT similarly trained or equipped Riot Police men] riding around in vans and in most cases arresting and sometimes summarily executing anyone and everyone who is a “suspect” i.e. “not holding enough cash to bail themselves”. Almost every time, these “Task Forces” arrive conveniently AFTER the bandits have long gone. Or find themselves ineffectively responding to ambushes and having entire teams wiped out.
The bad guys sometimes do get killed or captured…
Some successes are made in arresting some of these bandits, though we almost never hear of them being prosecuted in the Law Courts. I guess some of the JTFs might be getting more and more proficient in “thwarting escape of prisoners” and some remote fields in our already verdant nation might be getting new levels of “fertilizer” from time to time. Not to make light of this situation, but many of the ordinary people who are even afraid to call the Police have no means of recourse. In Nigeria, it is not unusual to be picked up yourself for reporting a crime, or helping an accident, assault or robbery victim: you might have been party to it!
Citizens are mostly not permitted to own arms, and cannot afford them mostly. So, we have swathes of villages and highways laid waste daily by these pillaging murderers who have AK47s and plenty of ammo in some cases, and in most cases, have and wield locally made firearms, which kill as dead as the “foreign” ones.
Captured and displayed…
Recently, some gangs of these killers were captured and the Police displayed a large number of the arms, ammunition, stolen mobile phones [some still with the blood of victims sticky between the keys…] breaking-and-entering tools and Juju charms [for “power and protection”] that these guys carried.
The picture shows a large number of captured locally made firearms, mostly 12-gauge shotguns, including longer-barrelled guns,
The picture is not very clear, but this is an alarming arsenal, and you can imagine the terror when a completely defenceless hamlet – not a single good guy with a gun! – comes under vicious attack from these devils.
Some insights on Bandits and their weapons:
Some AK47s and 7.62×39 ammo here. In Nigeria, there are a lot of Chinese Type 56s in the hands of criminals. Mostly looted from raided Police or Army Armouries in the far North-East during the height of the insurgency. They do not show clearly in this picture, but they are there.
We can also see quite many locally fabricated revolvers. Some seem built to shoot regular cartridges [9mm?] and not shotshells.
There are a few Longer-barrelled Revolvers here too.
These long-barrelled guns seem to be a newer entrant into theatre. It is not sure what they shoot, and how they work.
Possibly, the Police has listened to advice. The Police have paraded these bandits here for the press with their hands bound. The Nigerian Police has always paraded captured killers or robbers with their guns on the table in front of them, with several rounds of ammo on the same table, and their arms not bound. This has always been the worrying norm. A desperate criminal could grab a gun off the table, quickly load and maybe fire. Of course, he will be gunned down, but it is possible.
In front of them are some other long barrel guns, obviously locally fabricated. They seem to be getting their wood furniture game up now – this is a new development. It is believed that the closer a gun looks to the AK47, the more intimidating it will be [And is].
Unprecedented proliferation of small arms…
A lot more of these guns are in circulation now. Politicians have stockpiled guns and ammo to arm their thugs for the 2019 elections. Armed robbers use these guns too – the shocking invasion of Offa Town by up to 20 robbers about a month ago is an example. They robbed 12 banks and killed up to 50 police and other citizens. Most are in the hands of these bandits who operate from the bush. The government has announced an operation to offer amnesty to those who willingly surrender their illegal arms. There is also a drive to “mop-up” the high volume of small arms in the country.
Apprehension with Elections coming up, and the announcement of the return of Ebola in the Congo…
Well, I guess the only thing I could say is “Please pray for us!” There is a concern on the ground about the expected violence during the elections. Politics here is literally a “do or die” affair. Many people take vacations abroad, or back to their own villages during elections.
Also, there is some anxiety about the possible resurgence of Ebola. The Nigerian government and people are already implementing measures to stop any epidemic getting into Nigeria.
But on the whole, Nigerians have always been versatile, resilient and good at surviving…