President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed that his government will not succumb to blackmail by bandits following the latest abduction of students in Northern Nigeria.
It would be recalled that 317 schoolgirls were kidnapped by armed bandits from the Government Girls Secondary School in Jangebe, Zamfara State, Friday morning.
The Zamfara kidnap occurred about 10 days after 40 students, staff members and their family members were kidnapped from a secondary school in Niger State.
The victims of the Niger kidnap were yet to be released at the time of this report.
In his reaction, President Buhari described the Zamfara kidnap as “inhumane and totally unacceptable,” the president’s spokesperson, Garba Shehu, said in a statement.
In an apparent criticism of the Zamfara government’s amnesty programme for ‘repentant bandits’, Buhari appealed to state governments “to review their policy of rewarding bandits with money and vehicles, warning that the policy might boomerang disastrously.”
Many communities in states in northern Nigeria suffer from attacks by armed bandits, adding to the worsening security situation across the country.
Read the full statement by Mr Garba Shehu below.
President Muhammadu Buhari has described the latest abduction of hundreds of students of Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, in Zamfara State as inhumane and totally unacceptable, sending out a strong warning to bandits and their sponsors.
Reacting to the incident on Friday, President Buhari said that “this administration will not succumb to blackmail by bandits who target innocent school students in the expectations of huge ransom payments.”
According to the President, “no criminal group can be too strong to be defeated by the government,” adding that, “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,” he said, stressing that “our primary objective is to get the hostages safe, alive and unharmed.”
President Buhari noted that “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.”
He warned the bandits: “Let them not entertain any illusions 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.”
The President appealed to state governments “to review their policy of rewarding bandits with money and vehicles, warning that the policy might boomerang disastrously.”
He also advised states and local governments to be more proactive by improving security around schools and their surroundings.