President Muhammadu Buhari has reassured Nigerians that ending banditry remains a key priority of his administration and he would do whatever it takes to ensure the country’s security system confronts these public enemies with merciless determination.
The president has come under severe criticism from concerned Nigerians over his silence on the renewed violent killings of innocent peasants in Zamfara state as well as increasing cases of kidnap for ransom along the Kaduna-Abuja expressway.
On Friday, Nigerians in the United Kingdom, under the leadership of famous human rights lawyer Audu Bulama Bukarti embarked on a protest calling on the president to declare a state of emergency in Zamfara state.
Bukarti, who submitted a letter to the Nigerian High Commission in London, complained that there is “a total breakdown of law and order” in the state, where he said no government exists.
The campaign, tagged “#MarchForZamfara”, was also replicated in Abuja and some parts of Nigerian cities on Saturday.
However, in a statement by Garba Shehu, special assistant to Buhari on Media and Publicity, the president described himself as “one of the unhappiest leaders in the world”, while also condoling victims of the attacks.
“How can I be happy and indifferent to the senseless killings of my fellow citizens by bandits? I am human and I understand the pains of the victims and their families who have been traumatized and impoverished by constant ransom demands by bandits”, the President said empathetically.
The president is currently attending the World Economic Forum (WEF) for Middle East and North Africa, in Jordan.
“The politicisation of tragedy reveals the darkest sides of our primitive politics. Almost every week, I summon my security chiefs to get an update on the strategies being devised to defeat these mass murderers.
“There is no issue that dominates my mind every 24 hours like security because, as an elected President, protecting the citizens of my country is one of the primary functions of my administration.
“I constantly listen to our security personnel in order to understand their problems and needs, and I have never hesitated to attend to those needs in terms of motivating and equipping them to respond effectively to our security challenges.
“It is therefore ridiculous to suggest that I am indifferent to these killings.
“I have ordered rapid and robust deployment of troops to all the areas currently under attack from bandits and we are determined to tackle this challenge ferociously until these remorseless killers are crushed and utterly defeated,” the President said.
President Buhari called on communities where banditry is active to support and cooperate with the security agencies, particularly the recently launched Operation Puff Adder to battle bandits and kidnappers.
The President said it was regrettable that bandits have informants within some communities and utterly reprehensible that certain communities have signed protection deals with bandits at the expense of other communities, thereby creating complications and frustrating government’s intervention
He appealed to communities to report suspicious movements of the bandits into their areas within the shortest available opportunity, especially considering the fact that intelligence is critical to detecting, frustrating, neutralising and defeating the criminals.