The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) says in spite of assurances from the federal government that it will end banditry and kidnapping, the lives of Nigerians are becoming more endangered by the day.
The forum was reacting to the recent cases of kidnapping, particularly the abduction of 317 schoolchildren from Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, Talata-Mafara local government area, in Zamfara state.
In a statement by Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, its director of publicity and advocacy, the forum said Nigerians have “lost faith that government will reverse the successes of the criminal against defenceless citizens”.
The elders called on state governors, particularly from the northern region, to explore constitutional options of establishing policing structures.
They also asked governors to explore and resolve issues that aid the spread of banditry at local and community levels.
“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,” the forum said.
“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 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 within the confines 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.
“Bandits who refuse to submit to mediation and cessation of criminal activities should be treated in accordance with the laws of the country.”
The forum also said it is saddened by the negative effect of the abductions on education.
It asked parents not to be discouraged from sending their children to school while calling on governments at all levels to take firmer measures to secure schools.
“Apart from the likelihood of similar abductions re-occurring as bandits engage in copycat 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,” it said.