The urgency detected in the tone of the government on security received added impetus when President Muhammadu Buhari recently ordered the service chiefs and other security and intelligence coordinators to apprehend the bandits, kidnappers and their sponsors. The National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno, disclosed this to State House correspondents in a briefing after a security meeting chaired by the President in the State House, Abuja.
Urging the security chiefs to be proactive, the President was quoted to have also lamented a situation where criminals dictate the pace of security events in the country.
The NSA reiterated that earlier decisions approved at a recent National Security Council meeting, including the ban on mining activities in Zamfara State and the no-fly zone order in the state must remain in force until further notice. The President also emphasised the need to recover all areas under occupation of insurgents, bandits and kidnappers, and to go after non-state actors whose activities have been fuelling chaos across the country and to place them under surveillance. The president had also promised to infuse massive military and intelligence assets into the armed forces to enable the officers restore normalcy with immediate effect. He assured that the government would no longer tolerate acts of banditry in the country.
These orders were made before the president subsequently flew to London for his recent medical check-up, but it reminds many Nigerians of similar orders he made on May 16, 2020 which seem to have yielded no results.
However, we support the President’s orders provided that they are strictly implemented. It is not enough to issue these orders. His officers owe it to him and the nation to enforce them. He must ensure that his order is carried out and that his words are not spoken in vain. Nigerians have noted a few instances his words seem to have been disobeyed or ignored.
Kidnapping is today the most cruel and persistent crime in Nigeria. The current hostages include nearly 40 students of the College of Forestry, Kaduna five of whom seem to have escaped few days ago, and eight members of the Redeemed Christian Church of God who apparently spent the Easter in captivity. The tough stance adopted by the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, is logical, rational, and should be adopted as national policy. This means that all the 36 state governors, 36 state attorneys-general and if need be, all the directors of public prosecution should meet in Abuja and sign a pact of absolute non-cooperation with kidnappers throughout the country at the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation who should champion such a meeting. They should use all the tools at their disposal to ensure that no Nigerian clandestinely negotiates or pay any ransom whatsoever to kidnappers and if such culprit is found, he or she must be prosecuted as an accomplice. It is bound to be a tough act to follow, but it seems to be the only way out of the heinous activities of kidnappers, robbers and terrorists. We urge Governor el-Rufai to use his good offices to persuade his brother governors to sign a common pact which the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, should push for a unified policy of the federal and state governments against kidnapping. We believe that a unified leak-proof policy on kidnapping would go a long way in stamping out the menace in the country. But if such a policy is not put in place forthwith, then individuals must take the risk of negotiating with the bandits and other criminal elements that terrorise the country.
The principle against negotiating with kidnappers, terrorists and organised criminal gangs has been amply propagated by Western democracies with considerable persuasion and success. Therefore, democracies must never give in to violence, and the kidnappers and terrorists must never be rewarded for using it. Since negotiation gives legitimacy to kidnappers, terrorists and their methods, government must avoid it.