President Muhammadu Buhari has ruled out the possibility of granting amnesty to bandits, kidnappers and insurgents in the country.
He said his government would continue to deal decisively with such criminals whom he said constitute a threat to the country and its people.
Mr Buhari stated this on Thursday while declaring open a joint security meeting of Northern State Governors’ Forum, Northern Traditional Rulers Council and delegation from the federal government in Kaduna State.
The president’s stance is coming on the heels of agitations by some northern leaders that repentant bandits be given amnesty.
Prominent amongst those canvassing amnesty for bandits are the Zamfara State governor, Bello Matawalle, and an Islamic cleric, Ahmad Gumi.
Lawmakers from Zamfara have also called for amnesty for bandits who have killed and maimed others.
At the meeting in Kaduna, Mr Buhari said it was time to treat criminals as criminals and to stop ethnic profiling.
Represented by his Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, the president said security challenges confronting the nation had slowed down the emancipation of Nigerians from poverty and economic deprivation.
The president disclosed that he had already directed heads of security agencies to develop plans to end criminality in the country.
He said his government would continue to deal with insurgents, bandits and kidnappers.
“I must appreciate the efforts of the 19 Northern States Governors’ Forum for their contribution towards national growth and development, especially in this challenging period in our nation’s being where certain fundamental corporate existence needs to be frankly deliberated upon and actionable resolutions reached,” the president said.
“This meeting is coming at a time when the nation is making steady progress in addressing the many challenges impeding developmental and progress. We are providing critical infrastructure such as roads, railways, airports among others which are critical to economic prosperity of our people as well as opening up economic opportunities for our citizens to pursue legitimate aspirations that grow the economy.
“At the same time, we are confronting the various dimensions of security challenges that continue to slow down the emancipation of our people from poverty and economic deprivation. The Government shall continue to deal with insurgents, bandits, kidnappers and other criminals who constitute a threat to innocent citizens across the country.
“Criminals are criminals and should be dealt with accordingly, without resorting to ethnic profiling. I have already tasked the new Service Chiefs to devise new strategies that will end this ugly situation where the lives of our people continue to be threatened by hoodlums and criminals.
“I expect that at this meeting, your Forum will also discuss and devise ways of building stronger collaboration with the security architecture and the people in defeating criminality across the region and the nation at large.
“It is pertinent to note that the increased realization of our security, democracy and development indices are inextricably linked. Democracy and rule of law promote stability and in turn reinforce the power to assert freedom and economic progress of our people.”