On abduction, banditry and the negotiating government

Some of the freed schoolboys being carried to their destination

From Chibok in to Dapchi in Yobe, to Kankara in Katsina, Kagara in Niger and now Jangebe in Zamfara, thousands of school pupils have been stolen. This act is carried out by known non-state actors who mostly negotiated and subsequently fetched out millions from governments.

In Nigeria, more often than not, people are suffering in the hands of bandits who ravage our local communities, kill and destroy property. These kidnappers demand for ransom from the mostly pauperised citizens. In the process, many lives have been lost just because their families could not afford to pay ransom. The most terrible and shocking moment is how these bandits invade schools and kidnap . Not long ago, we experienced the Kankara school abduction, Kagara and now Jangebe.

I heard Mr. Peter Hawkins, Nigeria’s Representative of the United Nations Children’s Funds (UNICEF) saying that the abduction of school kids is too often and avoidable. He charged the government of Nigeria to do everything possible to make school a safe place for children –whose right to is sacrosanct. And as a student, I share this position.

Efforts have been made by security agencies and governments to tackle the issue of insecurity in Nigeria, especially when our schools are now soft targets and our younger ones are living in palpable fear of being kidnapped. is never effective at war front.

Apparently, the action and inaction of the government encourage terrorism. For Sheikh Gummi, his errands to dialogue and possibly negotiate with bandits need to be handled carefully. One, the sheikh is a non-state actor; two, he is not a security expert. Three, the religious leader needs to coordinate his utterances. He was on a national TV calling media men criminals. His statement about Christian and Muslim soldiers shouldn’t have been made.

Gumi said we should not address bandits as criminals, “even the press are criminals too because they are putting oil into (the) fire. These people are listening to you. You don’t address them as criminals if you want them to succumb. Youths are ready to put down their weapons. Now, they hear you calling them criminals, how do you want them to cooperate?” he asked. Gumi then added that, “So, you have to show them that they are Nigerians, that they should not hurt children and that they should be law-abiding.

Let’s ask the sheikh, what name does one who kills, rapes, kidnaps is called? His position is affirmation of a failed state. Despite the claims that many repentant gunmen have surrendered, their den is not far from Zamfara. Mr. Governor Sir, you must be commended for showing care and trying to safeguard your people, but negotiation is giving them more strength to do more and after when they will repent and be given amnesty.

The president has said that no amnesty will be given to these heartless human beings. We hope other governments will emulate. Governor El-Rufai has already given the solution to this issue. The governor believes using our troops could end this menace.

Paying bandits and gunmen to stop killing people is not amnesty. It is empowering murderers who always take the cash and go back to the bush; kidnap and slaughter more people. Paying them is making them realize they’re the real , not the men in charge of the treasury.

Usman Koli

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