President Muhammadu Buhari has warned state governments to stop the practice of giving cash, cars, and other forms of rewards to bandits in the name of negotiating with them.
The President noted that such practices are dangerous and only elevate the level of criminal activities in the country.
He added that the actions by such state governments have the potential to backfire with a lot of negative consequences.
Buhari rather urged the state and local governments to beef up security in and around schools and other places that may be targeted by the insurgents.
He made the submission as part of his reaction on Friday to the kidnap of over 300 students of Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe in Zamfara State.
“State Governments must review their policy of rewarding bandits with money and vehicles. Such a policy has the potential to backfire with disastrous consequences.”
“States and Local Governments must also play their part by being proactive in improving security in & around schools,” he said.
The President according to a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, also noted that security agencies have not moved against bandits because of the fear of “heavy casualties of innocent villagers and hostages” that may be suffered in such operations.
The spokesperson quoted his principal as saying, “We have the capacity to deploy massive force against the bandits in the villages where they operate, but our limitation is the fear of heavy casualties of innocent villagers and hostages who might be used as human shields by the bandits.”
The statement added that the Buhari administration will not succumb to blackmail tactics by the bandits but will go all out in dealing with them appropriately.
“This administration will not succumb to blackmail by bandits who target innocent school students in the expectations of huge ransom payments,” Buhari was quoted as saying.
“No criminal group can be too strong to be defeated by the government,” adding that, “the only thing standing between our security forces and the bandits are the rules of engagement.”
“We have the capacity to deploy massive force against the bandits in the villages where they operate, but our limitation is the fear of heavy casualties of innocent villagers and hostages who might be used as human shields by the bandits. Our primary objective is to get the hostages safe, alive, and unharmed.”
Meanwhile, the Northern Elders Forum has said that President Muhammadu Buhari does not have the political will to handle the security challenges facing the country.
In a meeting held at the Kashim Ibrahim House in Kaduna State on Thursday, the forum also described the devastation of the Northern region by bandits and other criminals as a “Dangerous Situation.”
Speaking to reporters at the end of the meeting, NEF Spokesman, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said the bandits have taken advantage of the weak security landscape to ply their trade.
Baba-Ahmed noted that the northern communities have been devasted as the federal government led by President Buhari is unable to protect the region.