Northern Elders: Bandits should be treated according to the law

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Worried by the level of kidnapping and killing of boarding school children in the north, the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has asked both Federal and state governments to deal with bandits according to the law.

The latest incident is when suspected bandits in Hilux vehicles and a number of motorcycles in security uniforms stormed the school around 1am last Friday abducted over 300 students of Government Secondary School (GSS) Jangebe in Talatar Mafara local government area of Zamfara follows the abduction of of GSC, Kagara, Niger State.

The abduction, NEF said will destroy education in the North, particularly girl-child education.

Northern elders said: “Bandits who refuse to submit to mediation and cessation of criminal activities should be treated in accordance with the laws of the country.”

They expressed disappointment that it has become obvious that the Federal Government is unable to muster the will or the capacity to limit exposure of to violent criminals.

According to a statement issued on Saturday by the Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, the NEF advised to resist the temptation to take laws into their hands, and improve the manner they work with security agencies.

The forum urged parents not to be discouraged from sending children to schools, adding that all governments: “must take firmer measures to secure learning institutions.”

The statement reads in part: “Northern Elders Forum the profound shock and outrage of at the spate of kidnappings of boarding school children in different parts of the North. The latest reported kidnapping of more than hundreds of female students in Zamfara State follows the abduction of of GSC, Kagara, Niger State. Apart from the likelihood of similar abductions re-occurring as bandits engage in copycat crimes in a region that is basically unprotected, these abductions will severely damage the poor state of education in the North, particularly girl-child education.

“Governors have been left to quarrel over causes and strategies. Many are taking steps that have dubious legal foundations, most of which merely compound the State of Security of the citizen in the country. In spite of assurances from the Federal Government that it will end banditry and kidnappings, the life of the Nigerian is becoming more endangered by the day, and citizens have lost faith that Governments will reverse the successes of the criminal against defenceless citizens.

“The Forum advises particularly Northern Governors to explore all lawful avenues to improve the Security of citizens. While they should improve their support to the Military, the Police and Security Agencies, they should also explore avenues which give them more powers to secure citizens of the constitution which gives powers to establish policing structures, including those with specialization such as forest rangers should now be pursued as a matter of national priority.”

Governors, NEF said should explore issues which aid the spread of banditry at local and community levels and resolve them.

“They should also intensify multi-pronged approaches to ending banditry and kidnappings, including measures which prevent the continuation of these criminal activities by those who show a genuine willingness to stop.

“Citizens should organize and raise their levels of vigilance. They should resist the temptation to take laws into their hands, and improve the manner they work with Security Agencies,” the statement added.

The Nation