President Muhammadu Buhari has reportedly ordered the military to shoot on sight on anyone seen with an AK-47 rifle in the bush.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu told BBC Hausa Services in an interview on Wednesday.
Bandits and several Fulani herdsmen operate with AK-47 and have been killing and maiming people across Nigeria.
Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State had defended herdsmen carrying AK-47, saying they used it to protect themselves from cattle rustlers and others.
Under Nigerian law, no individual is expected to be seen with an AK-47 except the military officers, but it is very common in Nigeria to see individuals with AK-47.
Shehu said the president had ordered military commanders to shoot anyone with an AK-47.
According to him, Buhari was determined to end wanton killings of people by bandits in Zamfara and other parts of the country.
Shehu added that the “no-fly zone” order on the Zamfara airspace was informed by reports that helicopters were flown in by gangs engaged in illegal mining of gold deposits in the state, adding that the criminal gangs allegedly supply arms to bandits in exchange.
“The president has ordered security forces to go into the bushes and shoot whoever they see with sophisticated weapons like AK-47,” he told the BBC Hausa Service.
But Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State has debunked the insinuation that helicopters flew into the state with arms for bandits.
“It was just misinformation, nobody has proven that and if they have, they should prove it beyond any reasonable doubt and as the Chief Security Officer of my state, security of lives and properties of my people is my primary responsibility.
“Therefore, I support any decision that will help eliminate banditry in my state. As for the ban on mining, I have no problem with that because already, there is ban on it, that is my knowledge,” he added.