President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday gave reasons the federal government under his leadership cannot tackle and stop bandits ravaging northern states and kidnapping innocent citizens, essentially, school children.
The President in the statement explained that the federal government has the capacity to defeat the bandits, but the security operatives of the country are constrained by the rules of engagement and consideration of the safety of kidnapped victims. He maintained that the federal government has the capacity to deploy massive security forces to the zone of operations by the bandits, but the government’s limitation is the fear of heavy casualties of innocent villagers and hostages who might be used as human shields by the bandits.
While the president is hiding under the guise of collateral damages in military operations, some northern leaders, including governors, have been negotiating with the bandits, some rewarding them financially and promising amnesty; an indication that the identities and locations of the bandits are known to northern leaders. The bandits are not residing with citizens in communities but reside in bushes.
An Islamic scholar, Sheikh Gumi, has also visited the bandits in the bush where they have camps, held negotiations, and in an instance, facilitated the release of some kidnapped victims. Sheikh Gumi also revealed that he is not the only one who knows the hideouts of bandits in the bushes, saying that the government and security operatives also know the camps of the bandits in the bush.
Apparently, some stakeholders of good will in the polity were of the view that these made the excuses or reasons given by the president self-defeatist.
President Buhari explaining his reasons for not deploying massive security to combat the bandits and end the insecurity, including rampant kidnapping in the north declared: “no criminal group can be too strong to be defeated by the government.
“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.”
President Buhari further explained: “A hostage crisis is a complex situation that requires maximum patience in order to protect the victims from physical harm or even brutal death at the hands of their captors.”
There are indications that the president may be creating more fears or opening the space and encouraging the bandits for more attacks with seeming assurance that the government may not apply violent force to counter their violent trade.
President Buhari had stated: “Let them not entertain any illusion that they are more powerful than the government. They shouldn’t mistake our restraint for the humanitarian goals of protecting innocent lives as a weakness or a sign of fear or irresolution.”
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