Banditry, kidnapping not federal government concern: Lai Mohammed

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Information Minister Lai Mohammed on Tuesday said combating banditry and kidnapping were not part of the duties of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.

The minister’s deflective take comes as calls for definitive government action to stem rising wave of banditry, abductions and other criminalities becomes more vociferous.

Insecurity has continued to sweep unfettered across the country, mainly in northern states.

In April, Peoples Gazette reported how bandits attacked Greenfield University in Kaduna abducting over 20 of students. Over 30 students of Federal College of Farm Mechanisation, also in Kaduna had earlier been abducted. Many of the students remain in captivity while a few have either been killed or released after their families paid ransom.

Mr Mohammed during a press conference in Abuja said banditry and kidnapping were not federal offences, asking oppositions to hold state governors responsible for their prosecution.The information minister was reacting to concerns raised by the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the growing insecurity around the country.

The PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus, on Monday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sit up and tackle the challenges headlong.

Mr Secondus decried the increase of cases of murder, kidnapping and other acts of terrorism across the country, especially in Kaduna, Niger, Benue, Katsina and Zamafara.

In response, Mr Mohammed said prosecuting suspected kidnappers and bandits was not part of the federal government responsibilities.

“The PDP alleged that kidnappers and bandits are not being brought to justice. This is apparently aimed at the federal government. It is shocking that a party that ruled this nation for all of 16 years does not know that kidnapping and banditry are not federal offences,” the minister said.

“The PDP should therefore call out the states, including those being controlled by it, to ensure a rigorous prosecution of arrested kidnappers and bandits,” he added.

The minister further claimed that Mr Buhari had successfully prosecuted thousands of Boko Haram members.“Meanwhile, PDP conveniently forgot that as far as terrorism, a federal offence, is concerned, this federal government has successfully prosecuted thousands of Boko Haram members in Kainji, as part of a continuing exercise. We are now seeking the cooperation of the judiciary to continue with the trial of arrested terrorists,” the minister said.

Many top government officials have continued to deflect blame for the raging insecurity in the country. Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu late April said Nigerian journalists were reporting the issue as if it was new, suggesting Aso Villa’s indifference to the worsening security situation.

Mr Mohammed has also often downplayed his principal’s failure to rid the country of bandits and kidnappers, claiming they were not novel occurences.

In February, The Gazette reported that the information minister waved aside the rising waves of schoolchildren abduction under President Buhari’s regime with claims that abduction takes place even in the most developed countries.

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