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Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) has criticised the shoot-on-sight order issued by President Muhammadu Buhari on unauthorised persons seen with a gun, saying that it can lead to the death of innocent people.
Falana said he was similarly against the same directive when former president criticised Olusegun Obasanjo issued it against members of the Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC and when Buhari issued it during the 2015 general elections.
Reacting to the order while speaking on Channels Television programme, Politics Today on Wednesday, Falana said the law has addressed the situation.
“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.
“What the law requires is that they should be disarmed, arrested and prosecuted — if found guilty, they should be jailed. If the president wants to call for death penalty, a bill has to be signed.”
Falana also maintained that the directive which was communicated by presidential spokesperson, Garba Shehu lacks legal backing and should have been come directly as an executive order signed by the president himself.
He said, “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.
“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.”