President Muhammadu Buhari has issued a warning to bandits following the abduction of over 300 schoolgirls from the Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe in the Talata-Mafara Local Government Area of Zamfara State.
The president’s warning was contained in a statement issued by by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, on Friday.
According to Buhari, “this administration will not succumb to blackmail by bandits who target innocent school students in the expectations of huge ransom payments.”
He also appealed to state governments to review their policy of rewarding bandits with money and vehicles because that policy might boomerang disastrously.
According to him, “No criminal group can be too strong to be defeated by the government adding that the only thing standing between the 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 said, stressing that “our primary objective is to get the hostages safe, alive and unharmed.”
Buhari further stated that “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.
“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,” he added.
He also advised states and local governments to be more proactive by improving security around schools and their surroundings.