The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has condemned the incessant abduction of students by bandits in parts of the country.
In a communique issued after the standing committee meeting held last Thursday in Lagos, the Guild expressed worry 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.
The communique, signed by the President, Mustapha Isah, and General Secretary, Mary Atolagbe, noted: “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.
“In the same vein, the Guild calls 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 Guild condemns a statement credited to an Islamic scholar, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, describing journalists as criminals. Sheikh Gumi had accused media professionals of adding to insecurity in the country by the names used in describing bandits. He levelled the accusation when he featured on Arise Television station, suggesting that ‘nice’ words should be used to describe bandits, if the nation desired that they surrender.
“Sheikh Gumi and his like minded are hereby reminded 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 Guild also denounces the choice of words by some governors who commented on the state of insecurity in the country. They are reminded that holding a public office comes with enormous responsibilities. 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 Guild calls on the government to live up to its fundamental responsibility of securing the lives and property of Nigerians. The new Service Chiefs should devise a new strategy to rid the nation’s forests of bandits and other criminal elements.
“The Guild also believes that the anti-corruption fight of the Federal Government should be sustained in a credible manner. The new Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, should ensure that investigations are well conducted 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.”