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Former president Olusegun Obasanjo and a prominent religious leader in the North ,Sheikh Ahmad Gumi have recommended that there should be protection and reward covertly for whistle blowers against criminals living in the community.
special courts to try bandits , kidnappers ,carrying of unlawful weapons promptly .
Both Obasanjo and Gumi in a jointly signed communique issued after they held a closed-doors meeting at the Obasanjo Presidential Library ,Abeokuta on Sunday.
Gumi who led some northern religious leaders to Obasanjo’s residence in Abeokuta arrived around 11:am and left at 4:pm while he declined to speak with newsmen when asked the reason for his visit .
But, in a 21-point communique jointly issued by Obasanjo and Gumi ,they urged the federal government to take the issue of insecurity up within the Economic Community of West African States .
They also recommended that whistle blowers against insecurity must be protected and rewarded .
The statement read partly ” 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.
“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.”
Speaking on the reasons for the visit , statement stated that Gumi’s visit to Obasanjo was part of his continued efforts to find solutions to the general insecurity in the country and particularly for the menace of banditry, kidnapping and ransom payment.
The statement further read “Sheikh Gumi with a delegation of eight, as follows Prof. Usman Yusuf, Mallam Tukur Mamu, Dr. Umar Ardo, Dr. Ibrahim Abdullahi, Honourable Suleiman Gumi, Alhaji Suleiman Yakubu and Mallam Buba Mohammed, visited Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in Abeokuta, Ogun State .
“Chief Obasanjo received Sheikh Gumi and his delegation in the presence of Oba Babajide Bakre, Agura of Gbagura, Abeokuta; Bishop Tunde Akin-Akinsanya, Chairman of Ogun State Christian Association of Nigeria; Sheikh Sa’addallah Alade Bamigbola, Chief Imam of Egbaland; Chief Kenny Martins, Chief Ola Babajide Jaiyeoba; Rev. Tony Ojeshina, Chief Imams of Oke-Ona, Gbagura, Owu and Mr. Vitalis Ortese.
The religious leader ,according to the communique briefed Obasanjo on the measures and steps he had taken and spearheaded to stem the tide of insecurity and menace of banditry, kidnapping and ransom payment in many parts of the North.
“Questions and discussions ensued to clarify some statements credited to Sheikh Gumi on his well-intended mission in the past.
“After clarification of points by Sheikh Gumi, discussion centred on causes – remote and immediate -, effects and implications, actions and reactions by communities, local authorities, state governments, national government and governments of our neghbouring countries and countries within West Africa.”
Both Obasanjo and Gumi however made 21-point resolutions towards ending insecurity after both parties reportedly engaged in “deep, frank and intimate discussions.”
Obasanjo in the communique commended Gumi for his initiative and encouraged him not to relent in his efforts just as lauded Obasanjo for his past services emphasising the special unifying efforts and attributes to the nation and for the warm welcome accorded his delegation.
They described the menace of banditry, kidnapping, other crimes and atrocities leading to general insecurity as a nationwide phenomenon.
“We acknowledge that people from different parts of the country and outside the country are involved although some people are more predominantly involved than others.
“We must not advertently or inadvertently, in words, action or inaction encourage or support criminality.
“We acknowledge that the security situation has gone beyond tolerance; hence Sheik Gumi’s coming to Abeokuta to confer with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
“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.”
While urging Nigerians to play their parts in ending insecurity ,the leaders advised the citizens to be involved in finding solution to the problem .
They appealed that Nigerians should desist from blame game; desisting from ethnicising the crimes; desisting from religionising the crimes , desisting from regionalising the crimes and respecting one another individually, community-wise, locally, ethnically, religiously and socially.
They also begged Nigerians to show tolerance and accommodation where necessary;condem criminal acts no matter where it is committed and by whom it is committed in Nigeria; encourage more of carrot solution as may be found necessary; sharing information at all levels and not accepting criminality as a way of life for any individual or group in our nation”
They also described the military as the strongest and most potent instrument and symbol of national unity, urging the government to keep it intact .
They also advised the state governments to provide adequate means of security for their people .
The communique read further “State governments must have adequate means of providing security for their people and as chief executives and chief security officers of their states, they must have the means at their disposal to ensure security for all within their states.
“Federal government must be proactive, secure necessary and updated intelligence to deal with organised crimes and have common policy for the nation.
” It is not solving the problem when one state goes for negotiation and molly-cuddling of criminals and another one goes for shooting them. Nor should one state go for ransom payment and another one going against.”
While tracing the root cause of the herders and farmers clashes , both Obasanjo and Gumi recommended proper education for the herdsmen .
It read patly “Education is one main key to solve the problem in the long run but it must start now. The 14 million children that should be in school and are out of school must be put in school with local authorities, state governments and federal government working together.
“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 hardened criminals must be hard hit with stick. Unlawful carrying of arms should be very seriously punished.”
While concluding they said “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 resolve that we would not relent in our efforts.
“The delegations on both sides acceded to this statement. We agree to meet again in due course to re-examine progress and situation of security in Nigeria.”