The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has said that there is a need for its personnel to bear firearms in discharging their duties. This is considering the level of security challenges across the country. The corps marshal, Mr. Dauda Biu, made this known to the media on October 7, 2023, while inaugurating 1,762 personnel of the corps who just concluded their four-month basic course at the Nigerian Army Training Centre (NATRAC), Kontagora, Niger State.
Biu, who was represented by Shehu Zaki, a deputy corps marshal, said that the measure would ensure adequate protection for the personnel who were often attacked in the course of duty by some road users or suspected criminals who take advantage of the security challenges in the country. He said that it was left to the political leaders to arm the corps, but the commanders at the corps know that the issue of the FRSC bearing arms has been on the agency’s status since 1992.
Officers would do damage if they don’t abide by rules, says commander.
He said the agency awaits the go-ahead to start using arms. “Right now, looking at the level of insecurity in the country, it is not out of place for the FRSC to start using arms to enable us to protect ourselves when the need arises,” Biu said. However, he urged the cadets officers, cadet marshal assistants and road marshal assistants to be dedicated to their duties towards bringing glory to the corps and the nation. He also urged the personnel to be patriotic and exhibit the highest level of discipline, honour, integrity, accountability, transparency, courtesy, confidentiality, decency, loyalty and team spirit in discharging their duties to ensure success.
More so, he said that it has therefore become imperative that he sound a very strong caution which is aimed at protecting and preserving their lives in the cause of discharging their duties objectively. This is as they tackle the challenges of nation building and sustainable development in a complex operational environment. “You must constantly abide by the regulations which guide the work ethics as you carry out your constitutional roles,” he admonished. He noted that without this, the officers will be doing a lot of damage to themselves, the corps and the nation as a whole. As well, he thanked the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, for approving the use of the training facility and also commended the army trainers for their contribution in ensuring a successful exercise.
Agencies permitted to bear arms haven’t gained Nigerians’ trust.
Security forces that bear arms in Nigeria, such as the Nigerian Armed Forces, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), and the Police Force, do not have a glamorous reputation with the masses. There are tales, however unconfirmed, of intimidation, extortion and even torture. A unit of the police force, known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), was allegedly known for acting with impunity without consequences. They were feared by many. This eventually led to one of the greatest protests in the history of Nigeria—the #EndSARS protest.
Some of the paramilitary agencies were also not left out. There was an old video comic, Area, which depicted a LASTMA officer as barging into a random man’s car and commanding him to drive to the agency’s office for allegedly running a red light. The retaliation depicted in the video was and is still what many have towards officers of these agencies. There were pictures and videos on social media platforms showing these officers allegedly staying some distance away from an inconspicuous one-way drive sign in order to catch unsuspecting motorists.
Social media agog because of the corps demand.
So, it was not surprising when a user on X (formerly Twitter) commented that officers of the FRSC were feeling left out of the “brutality Olympics” and wanted the firearms to assert dominance and intimidate drivers. Another user also asked if the firearms are required by law to check vehicle particulars. “Firearms to check driver’s license and seatbelt?” the user posted. Unarguably, Nigerians are weary of yet another agency being given the permission to bear firearms especially as SARS officers are starting to resurface gradually even though the Federal Government claimed that the unit has been dissolved.
Federal Road Safety Corps: Website