John Shiklam in Kaduna, Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja and Ibrahim Shuaibu in Kano
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF), yesterday, in a strongly worded statement, concluded that the federal government was no longer able to protect her citizens against the marauding criminals in different parts of the country.
The prominent northern group, however, called on the Nigerian citizens to organise themselves better and raise their level of vigilance against the criminals, even as it worried that the current level of insecurity in the region might affect its already poor education especially, for the girl-child.
Against this backdrop, the NEF has called on the governors particularly, those from its region, to explore avenues that could give them more powers to be able to secure citizens within the confines of the constitution of the land.
Relatedly, the Kano State government has directed the immediate closure of some tertiary institutions in the state in view of the current security situation in the state.
Condemning the recent abduction of 317 school children in Zamfara State, NEF in a statement in Kaduna by its Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed said, Nigerians had “lost faith that government will reverse the successes of criminals against defenceless citizens.”
According to NEF, “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.”
It noted that the “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.
“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.”
Urging the citizens to organise themselves and raise their levels of vigilance, NEF pleaded with them to resist the temptation to take laws into their hands but improve the manner they work with security agencies.
Unfortunately, NEF held the view that the development had left the governors to quarrel over causes and strategies to adopt in tackling the bandits, claiming that many of them were “taking steps that have dubious legal foundations, most of which merely compound the security situation.
“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 within the confines of the constitution, which gives states powers to establish policing structures, including those with specialisation such as forest rangers should now be pursued as a matter of national priority.”
Specifically, NEF called on the governors to explore issues that aid the spread of banditry at local and community levels and resolve them, urging them to 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.”
However, NEF maintained that, “Bandits, who refuse to submit to mediation and cessation of criminal activities should be treated in accordance with the laws of the country.”
It also appealed to parents not be discouraged from sending children to school, even as it called on governments at all levels to take firmer measures in securing schools.
Speaking on the closure of some tertiary institutions in Kano State, Commissioner for Higher Education, Dr. Mariya Mahmoud Bunkure, listed the schools to include PMK College of Advance and Remedial Studies Tudun Wada, School of Environmental Studies Gwarzo, School of Rural Technology and Entrepreneurship Development (SORTED) Rano and Audu Bako College of Agriculture Development (ABCOAD), Dambatta.
According to the statement reads, “With this instruction, all students of the affected schools are advised to vacate the campuses as soon as possible”.
The state government had on Friday ordered the closure of 12 boarding secondary schools on the outskirts of the metropolis over increasing abduction of students in some parts of the northern states by bandits.
Mr. Muhammad Sunusi Kiru disclosed this in a short audio message announced on radio stations in the state, saying the closure became necessary due to the rising number of abduction of school children in neighboring states.
The closed schools are located in Ajingi, Sumaila, Jogana, Kafin Maiyaki and Gaya, among others.