Buhari warns terrorists kidnapping students he is not weak

Buhari says violent armed groups cannot be too strong for the government to deal with.

President Muhammadu Buhari says his primary objective is to get hostages safe, alive, and unharmed  [Presidency]

Pulse Nigeria

President Muhammadu Buhari has warned armed groups kidnapping school students that his administration will not succumb to blackmail.

Gunmen kidnapped 317 students from Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe in the Talata Mafara Local Government Area of the state in the early hours of Friday, February 26, 2021.

The incident is the third high profile school abduction in two months after 344 students were kidnapped in Katsina in December 2020, and 27 students alongside 15 others were abducted from a school in Niger State last week.

Buhari in a statement on Friday evening condemned the latest abduction as 'inhumane and totally unacceptable'.

In a stern warning to violent armed groups targeting students and expecting ransom payments, the president said they cannot be too strong for the government.

The 78-year-old said the only thing holding the government back is the rules of engagement which aims to protect hostages that could be used as human shields if a heavy-handed approach is deployed by security forces.

"Let them 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," he cautioned.

Buhari also appealed to state governments to review their policy of rewarding armed groups with money and vehicles, referring to amnesty programmes that have been adopted recently by some governors, especially in Zamfara.

Governor Bello Matawalle said in a state broadcast on Friday his amnesty programme for repentant armed groups remains a success despite the abduction of the students.

The governor said the programme has made Zamfara safer than he met it, noting that he has already recovered a large cache of assorted weapons.

He said, "A single bullet in the hands of the non-state rogue elements could result in severe harm to the innocent.

"The type of dangerous weapons recovered through the disarmament process would make the heart of any person of conscience to cringe."

The governor appealed during his broadcast that the abduction of the students should not be used as an avenue to trade blames or play politics.

He said the incident makes clearer the need for the adoption of a uniform strategy across all the states affected by banditry.

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