The Northern Elders Forum on Saturday said Nigerians have lost faith in the power and will of the government to protect them from incessant bandit attacks after more than 300 schoolgirls were kidnapped at a school in Zamfara on Friday.
According to a statement signed by the Forum’s spokesman, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, the life of the average is becoming increasingly endangered by the day.
The Forum advised Governors, especially those from the Northern region, to explore all lawful avenues to improve the security of citizens.
Governors should also ramp up their support to the security services, the Forum added.
They advised citizens to organise and raise their levels of vigilance but not to take laws into their hands.
“Parents should not be discouraged from sending children to schools, and all governments must take firmer measures to secure learning institutions,” the Forum’s statement said.
Read the Forum’s full statement below:
27th February, 2021
STATEMENT OF NORTHERN ELEDERS FORUM FOLLOWING KIDNAPPINGS OF STUDENTS IN NORTHERN SCHOOLS
Northern Elders Forum shares the profound shock and outrage of Nigerians 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 student of GSC, Kagara, Niger State. Apart from the likelihood of similar abductions re-occurring as bandits engage in copy cat 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.
It has become painfully obvious that the Federal Government is unable to muster the will or the capacity to limit exposure of Nigerians to violent criminals. 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 states powers to establish policing structures, including those with specialization such as forest rangers should now be pursued as a matter of national priority.
Governors 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. Bandits who refuse to submit to mediation and cessation of criminal activities should be treated in accordance with the laws of the country.
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. Parents should not be discouraged from sending children to schools, and all governments must take firmer measures to secure learning institutions.
Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed
Director, Publicity and Advocacy
Northern Elders Forum