Buhari Explains Why Govt Cannot ‘Deploy Massive Force’ Against Bandits
President Muhammadu Buhari has warned bandits ravaging the north that the federal government can deploy massive force and deal decisively with them in the villages where they operate, but is holding back because of innocent lives that such operations could consume.
The President said the government is limited due to fear of heavy casualties of innocent villagers and hostages who might be used as human shields by the criminals.
President Buhari said this in a statement signed by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, reacting to the abduction of 317 students from Government Girls Junior Secondary School, Jangebe in Zamfara State.
The statement reads: “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.”
President Buhari described the latest abduction as inhumane and totally unacceptable, sending out a strong warning to bandits and their sponsors.
He affirmed that his ” administration will not succumb to blackmail by bandits who target innocent school students in the expectations of huge ransom payments.”
According to the President, “no criminal group can be too strong to be defeated by the government,” adding that, “the only thing standing between our security forces and the bandits are the rules of engagement.”
This is as he explained 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.”
He warned the bandits: “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.”
The President appealed to state governments “to review their policy of rewarding bandits with money and vehicles, warning that the policy might boomerang disastrously.”
He also advised states and local governments to be more proactive by improving security around schools and their surroundings.