The Northern Elders Forum has called on governors, particularly from the northern region, to explore constitutional options of establishing policing structures.
The group stated that despite assurances from the federal government that it will end banditry and kidnapping, Nigerians’ lives are becoming more endangered daily.
The development comes after the recent kidnapping cases, with the lastest one being the abduction of 317 schoolchildren from Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, Talata-Mafara local government area, in Zamfara state on Friday.
In a statement by Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, its director of publicity and advocacy, the forum said Nigerians have “lost faith that government will reverse the successes of the criminal against defenceless citizens”.
The elders advised governors to explore lawful avenues to improve citizens’ security and resolve issues behind the spread of banditry at local and community levels.
The statement read, “It has become painfully apparent that the federal government cannot muster the will or the capacity to limit exposure of Nigerians to violent criminals.
“Despite assurances from the federal government that it will end banditry and kidnappings, the life of the Nigerian is becoming more endangered by the day, and citizens have lost faith that governments will reverse the successes of the criminal against defenceless citizens.
“The forum advises particularly Northern governors to explore all lawful avenues to improve the security of citizens.
“While they should improve their support to the military, the police and security agencies, they should also explore avenues which give them more powers to secure citizens within the confines of the constitution which provides states with authorities to establish policing structures, including those with a specialization such as forest rangers should now be pursued as a matter of national priority.
“Bandits who refuse to submit to mediation and cessation of criminal activities should be treated in accordance with the laws of the country.”
The forum also said it is saddened by the negative effect of the abductions on education, encouraging parents not to stop their children from going to school.
It also called on governments at all levels to take firmer measures to secure schools.
“Apart from the likelihood of similar abductions re-occurring as bandits engage in copycat crimes in a region that is unprotected, these abductions will severely damage the poor state of education in the North, particularly girl-child education,” it said.