The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has condemned the incessant abduction of students by bandits in parts of Nigeria.The NGE said in a communique issued on Sunday in Lagos after its Standing Committee that it was worried that “the spate of abductions, if not checked, could discourage parents from sending their children to school and thereby lead to a further increase in the number of out-of-school children in Nigeria”.
“We strongly believe that children have the right to education and schools should be made safe for them to learn therefore, a comprehensive security plan should be put in place by all levels of government to prevent further abductions of students. Going to school to acquire knowledge is not a crime,” the NGE said.
He NGE also called on the Nigerian government to urgently revisit the Safe School Initiative, with a view to implementing it for the benefit of Nigerian children.
“The body of editors believes that dialogue and amnesty for bandits have not been positively impactful and therefore, it should be discouraged.
“The Guild aligns with the advice of President Muhammadu Buhari to state governors, to stop giving cash and other materials, such as vehicles to bandits, because such overtures could empower them to carry out more abductions,” the NGE said.
It condemned a statement credited to an Islamic scholar, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, describing journalists as criminals.
It recalled that Sheikh Gumi had accused media professionals of adding to insecurity in the country by the names used in describing bandits and suggesting that ‘nice’ words should be used to describe bandits, if the nation desired that they should surrender.
The NGE reminded Sheikh Gumi and his like-minded that “Journalists don’t create events, they merely report them. Also, journalists should not be expected to eulogise a group of people that abducts innocent children and others at will”.
The NGE also denounced the choice of words by some governors who commented on the state of insecurity in the country, reminding them that
“holding a public office comes with enormous responsibilities and those who do not have solutions to the current security situation should not aggravate it with irresponsible public comments. This is no time to play to the gallery”.
The Editors called on the Nigerian government to live up to its fundamental responsibility of securing the lives and property of Nigerians and that the new Service Chiefs should devise a new strategy to rid the nation’s forests of bandits and other criminal elements.
The NGE urged the Nigerian government to sustain the anti-corruption in a credible manner and tasked the new Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, to investigate cases before arrests are made.
“The practice of arresting suspects, parading them for corruption-related offences and then looking for evidence to nail them should be discarded,” the NGE said.