President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday warned northern governors who have been rewarding bandits with money and vehicles to be weary of the multiplier effects which, he said, are counterproductive.
The president, therefore, told state governments, essentially, in the north “to review their policy of rewarding bandits with money and vehicles,” warning that “the policy might boomerang disastrously.” President Buhari rather urged states and local governments to be more proactive against students kidnapping by bandits through improving security around schools and their surroundings.
President Buhari decried the kidnap of 317 students of Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, Zamfara State, saying the act is inhumane and totally unacceptable. He strongly warned the bandits and their sponsors.
President Buhari in a statement on Friday by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity Garba Shehu, asserted that his administration will not succumb to blackmail by bandits who target innocent school students in the expectations of huge ransom payments.
The President declared: “no criminal group can be too strong to be defeated by the government.”
He said: “the only thing standing between our security forces and the bandits are the rules of engagement.
“We have the capacity to deploy massive force against the bandits in the villages where they operate, but our limitation is the fear of heavy casualties of innocent villagers and hostages who might be used as human shields by the bandits.”
He further said: “our primary objective is to get the hostages safe, alive and unharmed.
“A hostage crisis is a complex situation that requires maximum patience in order to protect the victims from physical harm or even brutal death at the hands of their captors.”
President Buhari, therefore, cautioned: “Let them not entertain any illusions that they are more powerful than the government. They shouldn’t mistake our restraint for the humanitarian goals of protecting innocent lives as a weakness or a sign of fear or irresolution.”