The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), says security forces have not moved against bandits in the country because of the fear of “heavy casualties of innocent villagers and hostages” that may be suffered in such operations.
Of late, there has been outrage over the body language of the President to bandits in the country. Some sections of the country had also perceived Buhari as allegedly pampering bandits and criminal herdsmen terrorising parts of the country.
But in a statement on Friday, presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, quoted Buhari as saying, “We have the capacity to deploy massive force against the bandits in the villages where they operate, but our limitation is the fear of heavy casualties of innocent villagers and hostages who might be used as human shields by the bandits.”
Buhari, who also described the latest abduction of hundreds of students of Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe in Zamfara State, as inhumane and totally unacceptable, said no group was too strong to be defeated by government.
According to Shehu, the President noted that his “primary objective is to get the hostages safe, alive and unharmed.”
“A hostage crisis is a complex situation that requires maximum patience in order to protect the victims from physical harm or even brutal death at the hands of their captors.
“Let them (bandits) not entertain any illusions that they are more powerful than the government. They shouldn’t mistake our restraint for the humanitarian goals of protecting innocent lives as a weakness or a sign of fear or irresolution,” the statement further quoted Buhari as saying.