Worried by the current insecurity ravaging Nigeria, former president of the country, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and renowned Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Abubarkar Gumi have advised the federal government to create special courts to deal with cases of banditry, kidnapping, and unlawful carrying of weapons.
The duo also charged government to be proactive, secure necessary infrastructure and updated intelligence to deal with organised crimes.
They gave the advice in a statement jointly signed by them in Abeokuta, copies of which were made available to newsmen.
The renowned cleric had led eight others, including Prof. Usman Yusuf, Mallam Tukur Mamu, Dr. Umar Ardo, Dr. Ibrahim Abdullahi, Suleiman Gumi, Alhaji Suleiman Yakubu and Mallam Buba Mohammed, to visit the former president at his penthouse residence inside the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta.
The visit, according to the statement, was part of Gumi’s continued efforts to find solutions for the general insecurity in the country and particularly for the menace of banditry, kidnapping and ransom payment.
The delegation was received by Obasanjo; Agura of Gbagura, Oba Babajide Bakre, Chairman of the Ogun State Christian Association of Nigeria, Bishop Tunde Akin-Akinsanya; Chief Imam of Egbaland, Sheikh Sa’addallah Alade Bamigbola; Kenny Martins; Ola Babajide Jaiyeoba; Tony Ojeshina; Chief Imams of Oke-Ona, Gbagura Owu and Vitalis Ortese.
Obasanjo and Gumi, who proposed the slogan of the special court as ‘Security is the responsibility of all Nigerians’, declared that the menace of banditry, kidnapping and other crimes have become nationwide phenomenon.
They noted that people from different parts of the country and outside the country are involved in causing insecurity and urged Nigerians not to encourage or support criminality.
While acknowledging that the security situation in the country has gone beyond tolerance, they stressed that well-meaning Nigerians have to be involved in finding solutions by desisting from blame game and ethnicising crimes.
The statement further identified the remote causes of insecurity as educational and economic disparities, and the negative use of religion and ethnicity by unscrupulous politicians.
They, however, recommended “carrot-and-stick” approach to deal with bandits and kidnappers, saying “it is not solving the problem when one state goes for negotiation and molly-cuddling of criminals and another one goes for shooting them. Nor should one state go for ransom payment and another one going against”
The statement reads: “Solutions must be seen and provided on short, medium, and long-term bases and must be composed of stick and carrot for the offender and the vulnerable.
“All well-meaning Nigerians have to be involved in finding solutions by desisting from blame game; desisting from ethnicising these crimes; desisting from religionising these crimes; desisting from regionalising these crimes; respecting one another individually, community-wise, locally, ethnically, religiously and socially; showing tolerance and accommodation where necessary; condemning criminal acts no matter where it is committed and by whom it is committed in Nigeria; encouraging more of carrot solution as may be found necessary; sharing information at all levels; not accepting criminality as a way of life for any individual or group in our nation.
“Since the end of the civil war, the military are the strongest and most potent instrument and symbol of national unity that we have and we must keep them so.
“State governments must have adequate means of providing security for their people and as chief executives and chief security officers of their states, they must have the means at their disposal to ensure security for all within their states.
“Federal government must be proactive, secure necessary and updated intelligence to deal with organised crimes and have common policy for the nation. It is not solving the problem when one state goes for negotiation and molly-cuddling of criminals and another one goes for shooting them. Nor should one state go for ransom payment and another one going against.
“Education is one main key to solve the problem in the long run but it must start now. The 14 million children that should be in school and are out of school must be put in school with local authorities, state governments and federal government working together.
“Wean those who are ready to be weaned out of the bushes and crime, settle and rehabilitate them, give them skills, empower them and let them have employment.
“The hardened criminals must be hard hit with stick. Unlawful carrying of arms should be very seriously punished.
“Federal government should take the issue up seriously within ECOWAS to work for a regional solution. Every community must be encouraged and empowered to stand firm and strong against criminals.
“There should be protection and reward covertly for whistle blowers against criminals living in the community.
“Special courts should be created to deal promptly with cases of banditry, kidnapping, ransom demanding and unlawful carrying of weapons. Let the slogan be: Security is the responsibility of all Nigerians”.
Gumi, in the statement, however, extended an invitation to former President Obasanjo to visit Kaduna with a view to continuing the discourse started in Abeokuta.
“We conclude that to keep Nigeria safe and secure for all Nigerians and others living in Nigeria is a task that all well-meaning Nigerians must engage in, separately and collectively. Both of us resolve that we would not relent in our efforts. We agree to meet again in due course to re-examine progress and situation of security in Nigeria”, the statement stated.