A Nigerian lawmaker representing the Egbeda/Ona-Ara Federal Constituency, Akin Alabi, has moved a motion to stop the Federal Government from procuring weapons for the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC). On Tuesday, December 15, 2020, Alabi took to his Twitter page to announce that his bill to stop the FG from arming the FRSC with firearms has scaled first reading in the House of Representatives.
This is coming about a year after the House of Reps passed a resolution urging the government to arm FRSC operatives.
The increasing crime rate on Nigerian roads sparked debates over whether or not men of the FRSC should be allowed to carry firearms. In 2019, the Chief Marshal of the FRSC, Boboye Oyeyemi, said about 70 road safety operatives were either shot dead by robbers or knocked down by hit-and-run drivers in 2016. He added that these deaths would have been prevented if the road safety officers had been equipped with firearms to protect themselves.
No doubt, Nigerians across the country can attest to the heightened insecurity on our roads and it is worrisome. However, they do not think that arming the road safety officials with firearms is the right solution to the deteriorating security situation in the country – considering how trigger happy many uniformed men seem to be in Nigeria. For instance, take the now-defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), who are prone to abusing their firearms at the slightest provocation or without any form of provocation at all.
Uniformed men whose duty is to protect the lives and property of the citizens have used their guns on innocent Nigerians on countless occasions, leaving several young Nigerians dead and their loved ones in anguish.
So, what is the guarantee that the FRSC operatives will not tow the same path as the police if they are equipped with guns? On the other hand, they are road safety officers whose duty is to make the highways safe for motorists and other road users – they have no business busying themselves with the duty of the police whose job is to protect the lives and property of citizens.
Rather than arm the FRSC officials with firearms, the government needs to train and retrain the police, and equip them with the right skills they need to effectively carry out their primary responsibility to Nigerians.
Also, the House of Reps must ensure that they give due consideration to Mr Akin Alabi’s bill to guard against worsening the already fragile state of security in the country.