Tinubu: We Must Treat Kidnappers as Terrorists, They’re Cowards

•Zamfara is under serious Siege, gov laments 

•Warns local insecurity may be threat to entire north

•Kukah to FG: Interrogate persons with claims of ties with bandits 

•Gumi says meeting with security agents productive, without animosity

Deji Elumoye, Chuks Okocha and Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja

President Bola Tinubu, yesterday, condemned what he described as the ‘reprehensible acts’ perpetrated by kidnappers across the country, declaring that individuals involved in such despicable crimes must be treated as terrorists.

This was as the Zamfara State Governor, Dauda Lawal, has said the state was under the siege of banditry and kidnapping, and therefore pleaded with the federal government to come to his aid.

The governor, who said the state had become something else as a result of the frequent attacks by bandits, called for more military presence and security formations in the state.

Making this disclosure yesterday while speaking with newsmen after meeting with President Tinubu at the State House, Abuja, Lawal warned that the insecurity in Zamfara portended threat to the entire north.

At the same time, the Bishop of the Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Matthew Kukah, who expressed concern over the spate of kidnappings across schools in the country, and said the abduction rate could have psychological effect on the children, has advised the federal government to start interrogating persons with claims of ties with bandits.

But the controversial Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, yesterday, confirmed his interaction with security agencies, stating that he was not only treated with courtesy during the questioning, the meeting was productive and without animosity.

The president, however, made the declaration at the State House, Abuja at a Ramadan dinner with members of the federal judiciary led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola.

Reiterating the government’s resolve to defeat banditry, Tinubu said those who resorted to kidnapping children were cowards, incapable of confronting the might of the Nigerian Armed Forces.  

He said: “We must treat kidnappers as terrorists. They are cowardly. They have been degraded. They look for soft targets. They go to schools and kidnap children and cause disaffection.

“We must treat them equally as terrorists in order to get rid of them, and I promise you we will get rid of them.”

On the review of salaries of judicial officers, the president pledged that his administration would continue to implement necessary reforms to improve the welfare and working conditions of judicial officers.

”I recognise that the judiciary has one of the most unrewarded responsibilities. They are yet to modernise equipment and recordkeeping, and their progress towards improvement is slow.

”When you look at the career path of a judicial officer, they cannot practice the vocation for which they were trained after retirement.

”While the framers of the law may have their reasons, I perceive this differently and see this from a fair compensation angle that should benefit all,” the president stated.

Tinubu expressed gratitude to the judiciary for their dedicated service to the nation, acknowledging their role in upholding the respectability of the judicial arm of government.

“We will continue to support one another and bring Nigeria to that glorious dawn,” the president further said.

Earlier, Ariwoola commended the president for the honour of hosting judicial officers to a Ramadan dinner, his commitment to judicial reforms, and for improving the welfare of judicial officers in the country.

“May the Lord continue to bless you and your administration. Let your ship land and berth beautifully. We shall continue to pray for your administration because there are many good things in the pipeline for Nigerians,” he prayed.

He commended the administration for achieving a significant milestone by appointing a full complement of 21 justices to the Supreme Court, a feat he described as unprecedented.

Also, speaking, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, expressed gratitude to the president for forwarding the executive bill titled: “Judicial Office Holders, Salaries and Allowances, etc, Bill 2024” to the National Assembly.

Highlighting the stagnant state of judges’ salaries and emoluments since 2007, Fagbemi commended the president’s courage, determination, and compassion in taking decisive action.

”It takes a man with a great heart, determination, and consideration to do what the president did. More than 300.3 per cent increase has been given to the judges. The president has done his own part, never mind that the bill is still with the National Assembly.

”In my short stay as the Attorney-General, I have come to observe that anything that concerns the judiciary, you are very much interested in it, and I thank you for your abiding interest in the judiciary,” Fagbemi further said.

Lawal: Zamfara Under Serious Siege

Zamfara State Governor, Dauda Lawal, has said hisstate was under the siege of banditry and kidnapping, and therefore pleaded with the federal government to come to his aid.

Speaking with newsmen, Lawal said he came to brief Tinubu on the security situation in the state, because if nothing was done to arrest the situation, the whole of the north would be in trouble.

Lawal said the state had become an epicenter of banditry and had recently recorded several cases of attacks in a few local governments, despite efforts by the state to end criminal activities.

The governor said he had requested for more military personnel as well as the equipment that would enable the officers to function effectively in tackling the situation.

According to him, “There have been several attacks in some of the local government communities. I feel as a responsible governor, I should make this known to Mr. President, who is pleased with the discussion we have.

“We are looking for more military personnel as well as the equipment for them to be able to function effectively and take care of the security situation.

“Zamfara has become the center of banditry as we speak today, and if nothing is done in Zamfara State, I don’t think we will be able to solve the situation in the entire northern Nigeria.”

He confirmed that the abducted Kuriga school children and few other victims of banditry were rescued in Zamfara State thereby spurring the state to be more proactive to change the narratives.

“Most of the guys or the girls kidnapped in Kaduna State, ended up in Zamfara State. That is not good for us, and therefore, we’re doing everything to change the narratives and that is one of the reasons I came to see the president today.

“That is why I am here today. I have informed  Mr. President and I have his assurance that something drastic will be done to take care of the situation as soon as possible,” he said.

Lawal noted that governors did not have control over the Nigerian military and the police, hence it remained the responsibility of the federal government to issue directives to police and security personnel.

He said, “As you are fully aware, we as governors, we don’t have control over the military as well as the police. It is the responsibility of the federal government.

“Therefore, at any point, we need to inform Mr President so that we can get his blessing either to direct them or to do something else that will help them take care of that situation.”

He also explained that the Community Protection Guard recently launched by the Zamfara State government was intended to collaboratively work with the military and the police, adding that they had a better understanding of the terrain.

Lawal noted that, “Like you rightly pointed out, last month, we launched what we call the Community Protection Guard and these are people that are well-trained to take care of the security situation, together with the security operatives.

“They go out on their own on operation, they go together, either with the military or the police. And let me say this, these people are expected to understand the terrain better than even the military and the police.”

Kukah to FG: Interrogate Persons with Claims of Ties with Bandits

The Bishop of the Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Matthew Kukah, has expressed concern over the spate of kidnappings in schools, saying the federal government must start interrogating persons with claims of ties with bandits.

Kukah, who raised questions about federal government’s failure to investigate individuals claiming ties with bandits, said the abduction rate could have psychological effect on the children.

In an interview on a television programme in Abuja, Kukah, said, “It is clear that the federal government at the highest level knows what is going on, at least, the intelligence community has an idea.

“There are key Nigerians, who are saying openly that they know more than they think the rest of us know, and I think that it is the business of the federal government to find out those who claim to know where the bandits are, those who are collaborating with the bandits.”

Gumi: Meeting with Security Productive

Controversial Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, yesterday, confirmed his interaction with security agencies, stating it was not only productive, but also without animosity.

He however, did not confirm the reason the security invited him to a meeting but said only the innocent was above the law.

The Minister of Information had Monday confirmed that Gumi had been invited by security agencies for questioning over his controversial comments considered supportive of bandits.

But in a statement issued yesterday, titled: “ONLY ONE PERSON IS ABOVE THE LAW: THE INNOCENT”, Gumi said: “Last night, I got many frantic calls from well-wishers and journalists about a news item that I was interviewed by security. There is absolutely no cause for alarm.

“Yes, we had a productive interaction on how to curb banditry as we are all trying – each in his own sphere – to tackle the monster bedeviling the nation. There was no animosity but courtesy and full of respect.

“We all need as a nation to unite and work in synergy to achieve an everlasting peace. I thank you for your concern. May Allah continue to protect us all from all evil. Amin”

In a related development, Publisher of Kaduna-based Desert Herald Newspaper, Tukur Mamu, has written to the Attorney General of the Federation, demanding a retraction for profiling and designating him as a terrorist financier.

This was contained in a letter dated March 25, 2024, written on his behalf by his lawyer, J.J. Usman (SAN), addressed to the AGF, which acknowledged copy was sighted by THISDAY in Kaduna yesterday.

The federal government had unveiled the identity of 15 entities, including nine individuals and six Bureau De Change operators and firms, allegedly involved in terrorism financing.

Details of the development were revealed by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit in an email sent to this newspaper entitled “Designation of Individuals and Entities for March 18, 2024.”

But counsel for Mamu, who has been in detention since 2022, noted that the “Nigerian Sanctions Committee lacks the statutory mandate to pronounce on, and to designate Tukur Muhammad Mamu as a terrorist financier.”

Consequently, according to the letter, a seven-day ultimatum was handed down for a retraction of Mamu as a terrorist financier to prevent litigation.

The lawyer noted that the office of the AGF was currently prosecuting his client on allegations concerning terrorism.

He said it was “lamentable that while the case was still pending in court, the social media was saturated by a publication allegedly emanating from and authorised by your good office.

“However, the said publication was specifically made by the ‘Nigerian Sanctions Committee’ wherein our client was profiled and designated as a terrorist financier.

“As at the time of this missive, no court of competent jurisdiction in Nigeria has designated our client as such.

“It is a common knowledge that the administration of the criminal justice system in Nigeria is not only antithetic to, but forbids media trial in whatever guise.

“We vehemently condemn the actions of the Nigerian Sanctions Committee same being a violation of the rule of natural justice and prejudicial to our client who is undergoing trial, and whose trial is still pending in Suit FHCIABJ/CR/96/2023

“The Nigerian Sanctions Committee lacks the statutory mandate to pronounce on, and to designate Mr Tukur Muhammad Mamu as a terrorist financier; even when it is a notorious fact that Mr Tukur Muhammad Mamu is undergoing trial. It is so, particularly that the court has not made any pronouncement detailing him to be one.

“Based on the aforesaid, we demand in very clear and unequivocal terms, the immediate retraction of the said publication within seven days from the receipt of this letter dated 25h March 2024.

“Failure to comply with our client’s demand. we will have no hesitation in seeking redress in the court of law for the ventilation of our client’s grievances.”

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