Buhari urges Nigerian state governments to review policy of “rewarding” bandits

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari attends the second plenary meeting of the Russia-Africa Summit at the Sirius Park of Science and Art. Mikhail Metzel/TASS Host Photo Agency (Photo by Mikhail Metzel\TASS via Getty Images)

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday called on the country’s state governments to review their policy of “rewarding” bandits as the initiative had the likelihood of failing against their expectations.

FILE PHOTO: Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari during a past event. (Photo by Mikhail MetzelTASS via Getty Images)

Buhari made the comments as he condemned the kidnapping of more than 300 girls in a school in the north-western Zamfara State earlier on Friday.

“State Governments must review their policy of rewarding bandits with money and vehicles. Such a policy has the potential to backfire with disastrous consequences,” Buhari said.

Nigerian state authorities have tried to implement a number of policies, including initiation of peace talks, to address the scourge of banditry without much success.

In July last year, the state governor, Bello Matawalle, announced an initiative to give bandits, who renounced their criminal lives, two cows for every AK-47 gun they surrendered.

According to Matawalle, the move was intended to motivate the bandits to leave behind their criminal life and become law-abiding citizens.

With this being the second such kidnapping in a little more than a week in Nigeria’s north, which has seen a surge in activity by armed groups leading to a widespread and worsening breakdown of security, Buhari also appealed to authorities to play their part in protecting schools.

“States and Local Governments must also play their part by being proactive in improving security in & around schools.”

Following the incident, state authorities ordered the closure of all boarding to prevent activities of militants against students.