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Obasanjo, Gumi seek special court to try culprits |The Nation

By Ernest Nwokolo, Abeokuta

The growing spate of banditry, insurgency and kidnapping across the country got the attention of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Sheikh Abubakar Gumi on Sunday.

They met at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, where they deliberated on the way forward.

The duo called for the establishment of special courts to deal promptly with cases of banditry, kidnapping-for- ransom and unlawful possession of weapons.

Obasanjo and Gumi also called on well-meaning Nigerians to work together in finding solution to the menace.

He said: “Security is the responsibility of all Nigerians. We agree to continue to work together for solutions for the security of Nigeria.”

Gumi, who arrived at Obasanjo Hilltop mansion by noon went into a private meeting with his host.

He was accompanied by Prof. Usman Yusuf; Mallam Tukur Mamu; Dr. Umar Ardo; Dr. Ibrahim Abdullahi; Suleiman Gumi; Alhaji Suleiman Yakubu and Mallam Buba Mohammed.

They were received by Chief Obasanjo; Agura of Gbagura Oba Babajide Bakre; Ogun State chapter Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN); Bishop Tunde Akin-Akinsanya; Chief Imam of Egbaland Sheikh Sa’addallah Alade Bamigbola; Chief Kenny Martins; Chief Ola Babajide Jaiyeoba; Rev. Tony Ojeshina; Chief Imams of Oke-Ona, Gbagura, Owu and Mr. Vitalis Ortese

In a statement after the meeting that lasted hours, Obasanjo and Sheikh Gumi identified banditry, kidnapping, other crimes and atrocities leading to the current general insecurity, as a nationwide phenomenon.

They also acknowledged that people from different parts of the country and outside  were involved but noted that some people were more predominantly involved than others.

The former president and the cleric appealed to Nigerians not to advertently or inadvertently, in words, action or inaction, encourage or support criminality, lamenting that the security situation has gone beyond tolerance.

They said: “We identified the crisis as micro ethnic conflict between the Fulani and many host communities mainly in the North West. We identified the remote causes as educational and economic disparities, and the negative use of religion and ethnicity by unscrupulous politicians.

“Solutions must be seen and provided on short-, medium-, and long-term bases and must be composed of stick and carrot for the offender and the vulnerable.

“All well-meaning Nigerians have to be involved in finding solutions by: desisting from blame game; desisting from ethnicising these crimes; desisting from religionising these crimes; desisting from regionalising these crimes.”

A proposal was made for Obasanjo to visit Kaduna, one of the epicentres of banditry and violent crimes. The visit is to help in finding solutions to the crisis.

They urged the local, state and federal governments to ensure the return of the 14 million out-of-school children in the North to school.

The discussion also advised the government to wean those who are ready to be weaned out of the bushes and crime, settle and rehabilitate them, give them skills, empower them and let them have employment.

The statement reads in part: “Unlawful carrying of arms should be very seriously punished. The federal government should take the issue up seriously within ECOWAS to work for a regional solution.

“Every community must be encouraged and empowered to stand firm and strong against criminals. There should be protection and reward covertly for whistle blowers against criminals living in the community.

“Special courts should be created to deal promptly with cases of banditry, kidnapping, ransom-demanding and unlawful carrying of weapons. Let the slogan be: ‘Security is the responsibility of all Nigerians. We agree to continue to work together for solutions for the security of Nigeria and to seek others to join us as we widely circulate our joint statement.

“To this end, Sheik Gumi has extended an invitation to Chief Obasanjo to visit Kaduna with a view to continuing the discourse started today and Chief Obasanjo has graciously accepted.

“We conclude that to keep Nigeria safe and secure for all Nigerians and others living in Nigeria is a task that all well-meaning Nigerians must engage in, separately and collectively.

“Both of us resolved that we would not relent in our efforts. The delegations on both sides acceded to this statement.  We agreed to meet again in due course to re-examine progress and situation of security in Nigeria.”

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