By Samuel Ohwovoriole
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF), has declared the northern region of Nigeria as an unprotected area. This is according to a statement it released on Saturday and signed by its Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed.
The NEF said despite all the assurances of protecting the lives and properties of all Nigerians the federal government has allowed banditry, terrorism and kidnapings to overrun the region. It therefore advised the state Governors to explore all constitutional means to secure their various states.
The elders who were very disturbed, said they share the profound shock and outrage of Nigerians at the spate of kidnappings of boarding school children in different parts of the North. The latest reported kidnapping of more than hundreds of female students in Zamfara State follows the abduction of student of GSC, Kagara, Niger State.
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.
The NEF lamented Federal Government’s inability to adequately protect its citizens within the northern region of the country.
“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. Governors have been left to quarrel over causes and strategies. Many are taking steps that have dubious legal foundations, most of which merely compound the State of Security of the citizen in the country.
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 NEF, used the opportunity to call on the 19 Governors of northern Nigeria to explore all legal means possible to restore peace to the region.
“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. of the constitution which gives states powers to establish policing structures, including those with specialization such as forest rangers should now be pursued as a matter of national priority.
“Governors should explore issues which aid the spread of banditry at local and community levels and resolve them. They should 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. Bandits who refuse to submit to mediation and cessation of criminal activities should be treated in accordance with the laws of the country.”
The NEF advised citizens to be security cautious of their environment.”Citizens should organize and raise their levels of vigilance. They should resist the temptation to take laws into their hands, and improve the manner they work with Security Agencies. Parents should not be discouraged from sending children to schools, and all governments must take firmer measures to secure learning institutions.” They said.
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