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Kidnappers Must Be Treated As Terrorists — Tinubu

The President said those who resort to kidnapping children are cowards, incapable of confronting the might of the Nigerian Armed Forces.


President Bola Tinubu at a Ramadan dinner with members of the Federal judiciary in Abuja on Tuesday, March 26, 2024

 

President Bola Tinubu has declared that individuals involved in despicable crimes such as kidnapping must be treated as terrorists.

The President made the declaration on Tuesday 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, the President said those who resort to kidnapping children are cowards, incapable of confronting the might of the Nigerian Armed Forces.

”We must treat kidnappers as terrorists,” the President said, according to a statement by his spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale.

“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,” the President said at the dinner attended by serving and retired judicial officers, including two former CJNs, Justice Mahmud Mohammed and Justice Walter Onnoghen.

Nigeria is facing increasing security challenges majorly terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and oil theft. The North-West and North-East geopolitical zones have recorded the highest number of insurgent and bandit attacks in the last decade, with terror gangs sprawled across forests in the zones, killing and kidnapping thousands of residents, travellers, and soft targets including women and children.

The Tinubu government has maintained that it won’t negotiate with bandits, even as the marauders continue to make kidnapping-for-ransom an enterprise, abducting hundreds of schoolchildren and residents, with the most recent mass abduction being that of 137 schoolchildren from Kuriga in Kaduna State.

Some pupils and staff members of Apostolic Faith School in Ekiti State were also abducted on January 29, 2024, from their school bus. They were heading to Emure-Ekiti when assailants intercepted them at Eporo-Ekiti. They later regained freedom about a week later but the driver of the bus was found dead.

The abduction of the Kuriga pupils was not the first in the series of mass kidnappings of schoolchildren in the country. From Chibok to Dapchi, Kankara, Kagara, and many others in Kaduna, Katsina, and Niger states, terrorists have in the last years seized thousands of schoolchildren in mass kidnappings that attracted global outrage. While some of the students eventually regained freedom, others have been perpetually detained in the enclaves of their abductors and sexual abusers.

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 modernize 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.

President 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 concluded.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria 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.

Justice Ariwoola 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.

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 percent 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,” the Minister of Justice said.