By Chukwudi Nweje
Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has condemned any form of dialogue or amnesty for bandits.
The NGE aligned with President Muhammadu Buhari’s position that giving cash and other materials to the bandits will embolden them.
It warned state governors to be cautious with their choice of words when they comment on the state of insecurity in the country to avoid aggravating the situation.
The body of editors warned that Nigeria risks a spike in the number of out-of-school children if the resurgence of abduction of school children is not checked and called on the Federal Government to revisit the Safe School Initiative, with a view to implementing it for the benefit of Nigerian children.
These are some of the positions in a communique issued and signed by Mustapha Isah and Mary Atolagbe, NGE president and general secretary respectively at the end of a meeting of its standing committee, in Lagos, at the weekend.
“The Guild aligns with the advice of President Buhari to state governors, to stop giving cash and other materials, such as vehicles to bandits, because such overtures could empower them to carry out more abductions.
“The body of editors believes dialogue and amnesty for bandits have not been positively impactful and therefore, it should be discouraged.
“It also denounces the choice of words by some governors who commented on the state of insecurity in the country. They are reminded that holding a public office comes with enormous responsibilities. Those who do not have solutions to the current security situation should not aggravate it with irresponsible public comments. This is no time to play to the gallery.
“The Guild is worried that, the spate of abductions, if not checked, could discourage parents from sending their children to school and thereby lead to a further increase in the number of out-of-school children.
“We strongly believe children have the right to education and schools should be made safe for them to learn.”
NGE took a swipe at Islamic scholar, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, over a statement credited to him on an on Arise Television interview that journalists added to insecurity with the style in which they portrayed the bandits.
Gumi had suggested that ‘nice’ words be used to describe bandits, if the nation desired them to surrender.
The Guild, however, said journalists do not create events, but merely report them, even as they will “not eulogise a group of people that abducts innocent children and others at will.”
It charged the government to live up to its fundamental responsibility of securing the lives and property of Nigerians and called on the new service chiefs should devise a new strategy to rid the nation’s forests of bandits and other criminal elements.
On the fight against corruption, the Guild condemned the practise of arresting and parading suspects before the media before the allegations against them are established. It called on the new Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, to ensure thorough investigation of cases before suspects are arrested
The Guild believes the anti-corruption fight of the Federal Government should be sustained in a credible manner.
“Bawa should ensure investigations are well conducted before arrests are made. The practice of arresting suspects, parading them for corruption-related offences and then looking for evidence to nail them should be discarded,” the NGS said.