Authorities in the north-central Niger State of Nigeria have announced that they are going to arm vigilante groups with pump-action rifles.
The officials say they want to improve local security in a state where attacks by bandits armed with AK-47 assault rifles have been on the rise.
There is no police presence across much of the state, so it’s hoped the vigilantes will fill the gap, but there are concerns that it will lead to growing violence.
“The rival bandits are using AK-47, GMPGS and more recently RPGs and then we are sending people with double-barred guns and pump-action guns to go face them,” Nnamdi Obasi, International Crisis Group’s senior adviser on Nigeria told the BBC.
“It is a very unequal match and it’s going to lead to a more complicated situation than we have at the moment.”
He cited a “disconnect between the federal government and state government efforts and most of the state government”, which had led state governments to deal with the security situation “as the federal government is not as responsive as it ought to be”.