Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) has responded to the shoot-on-sight order issued by President Muhammadu Buhari, on persons found with AK-47 rifles.
The Presidential Spokesman, Garba Shehu had, in an interview with BBC Hausa Services, on Wednesday, March 3rd, said that President Buhari had directed security agencies to shoot anyone seen with AK-47 rifles in forests across the country.
TheFact Nigeria reports, however, that in an interview on Channels Television on Wednesday, March 10, Falana said such a directive should come from the president himself, and should be backed by a signed executive declaration.
He explained that without the necessary legal backing, such a directive holds no water, and berated those commending the President for issuing the order.
According to the senior lawyer, there are existing laws that require that those with illegal arms should be disarmed, arrested, prosecuted, and jailed if found guilty.
He noted that innocent persons might also be affected as a result of the directive to security agencies.
“By virtue of section 35 of the firearms act, the president has to make a proclamation with respect to prohibition of possession of firearms and ammunition; that is the law. There has to be a proclamation,” he said.
Falana said further: “This cannot be an announcement by a media aide of the president. The president has to make a declaration and sign it, as if he is issuing an executive order and the condition would have to be stipulated because the announcement was to the effect that those who are carrying AK-47 in the bushes should be shot on sight.”
He also said: “I can never clap for any president who gives a shoot-on-sight order. We criticised President Obasanjo when he gave a shoot-on-sight order on the OPC members. We criticised President Buhari when he gave a shoot-on-sight order on election riggers in 2019. We made it clear then and now, that there are provisions of the law for dealing with election riggers, allegations of murder, possession of firearms,” he said.
“When you say go and shoot on sight, innocent people may be shot. Once the president has declared a war as it were on bandits and terrorists, and deploys armed forces, it implies that anybody caught with arms and ammunition would be shot, because they (referring to bandits) are killing innocent people, including raping women and killing children.
Falana reiterated that the law requires that those in possession of the illegal arms should be disarmed, arrested and prosecuted, and if found guilty, they should be jailed.
“If the president wants to call for death penalty, a bill has to be signed”, he posited.