FORMER president Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Muslim cleric Sheikh Ahmed Gumi have recommended the creation of special courts to try bandits and kidnappers promptly following their recent meeting in Abeokuta to discuss insecurity.
With Nigeria teetering on the verge of a total breakdown of law and order, Chief Obasanjo and Sheikh Gumi, who recently met with bandits in Zamfara State, decided to meet to find ways of stemming the orgy of violence. Apart from the Boko Haram insurgency, Nigeria is also being plagued by kidnapping, banditry, armed robbery and heavily armed Fulani cattle herdsmen carrying out violent attacks against farming communities.
After yesterday’s meeting, both men signed a joint communiqué at the Obasanjo Presidential Library in Abeokuta. Sheikh Gumi, who led some northern religious leaders to Chief Obasanjo’s residence in Abeokuta, arrived around 11am and left at about 4pm.
In the 21-point communiqué jointly issued by Chief Obasanjo and Sheikh Gumi, they also urged the federal government to take the issue of insecurity up within the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas). Among other things, they also recommended that whistle blowers against insecurity must be protected and rewarded.
Their statement partly read: “The 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 and there should be protection and reward covertly for whistleblowers 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. We agree to continue to work together for solutions for the security of Nigeria and to seek others to join us as we widely circulate our joint statement.
“We identified the remote causes as educational and economic disparities, and the negative use of religion and ethnicity by unscrupulous politicians. 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.”
They also described the military as the strongest and most potent instrument and symbol of national unity, urging the government to keep it intact. In addition, they advised state governments to provide adequate means of security for their people.
Chief Obasanjo commended Sheikh Gumi for his initiative and encouraged him not to relent in his efforts, just as the latter lauded Chief Obasanjo for his past services emphasising his unifying efforts and for the warm welcome accorded the delegation. It is expected that the communique will now be sent to President Muhammadu Buhari.