President Muhammadu Buhari has confirmed that bandits are rewarded with vehicles and money, while admonishing the states and local governments to review their policy which may “backfire with disastrous consequences”.
Peoples Gazette had exclusively reported how N800 million was ferried into the forest via Sheikh Gumi to secure the release of students and staff of a government school kidnapped in Kagara, Niger State. They were announced released Saturday morning.
“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 and around schools,” Mr. Buhari said in a statement on Friday.
The president said his administration will not “succumb to blackmail by bandits and criminals who target innocent school students in the expectation of huge ransom payments.”
Mr. Buhari, who has overtime been criticised for his administration’s inability to curb security challenges, asked the bandits to shun illusions that they are more powerful than the government, while stressing that “they should not mistake our restraint for the humanitarian goals of protecting innocent lives as a weakness or a sign of fear or irresolution.”
He further challenged the states and local governments to be more proactive in protecting lives and properties, while also asking for a review on their policy of rewarding bandits with ransom.
Kidnap-for-ransom by bandits marauding communities across the country have become rife of late.
While families and associates are made to cough out ransoms for abducted private citizens, the gunmen target schools and government officials in anticipation for a hefty payday from the government.
In 2018, the UN confirmed that the Nigerian government paid “large ransoms” to secure the release of 111 school children from Dapchi in Borno. Yet, one of the girls, Leah Sharing, has not been released till date.
Information minister Lai Mohammed had claimed then that no ransom was paid, an assertion that the UN later put a lie to.
“In Nigeria, 111 schoolgirls from the town of Dapchi were kidnapped on February 18, 2018 and released by ISWAP on 21 March 2018 in exchange for a large ransom payment,” the UN announced in a release.
Weighing in on the president’s statement, political analyst, Ken Eluma-Asogwa, said Mr. Buhari’s open admission speaks volume.
“This is a huge indictment coming from the Commander-In-Chief. We need look no further to understand why this banditry has appeared seemingly intractable. I understand that, realistically speaking, governments at all levels try to engage kidnappers to ensure safe return of captives, but the allegation of procurement of operational vehicles for the terrorists by some state governments as alleged by no other person than the Commander-In-Chief leaves much to be desired. This goes beyond ordinary negotiations for release of victims; this is open admission to state sponsorship of terror. It speaks volumes,” Mr Eluma-Asogwa said.
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