Yemi Osinbajo, Vice-President, has said criminals responsible for insecurity in the country must be treated in accordance with the law and not perceived as ethnic prosecution.
Osinbajo, who spoke on Thursday at the National Social Cohesion Dialogue organised by the Africa Polling Institute, in Abuja, said the country will overcome its challenges if it remains undivided.
He noted that the categorisation of citizens into indigenes and non-indigenes is a form of apartheid.
“All Nigerians have a constitutional right to live, work and enjoy their lives in peace and safety under the law. The classification of Nigerians as “indigenes” and “non-indigenes” is a form of apartheid and contradicts our declared aspirations towards equality and unity,” Osinbajo said.
“This is why when we launched our Social Investment Programmes, the eligible beneficiaries were selected based on their states of residence and none was discriminated against on any basis. This was in keeping with the idea that the only true path to national progress lies in broadening access to opportunity for all Nigerians without qualification.
“Our destinies have become so interlinked as to be inseparable. This is why this administration is investing heavily in transportation infrastructure – road, rail, sea and river ports – to reduce the distances between our people and link localities to markets and enable trade, travel and tourism.
“We must ensure that we see it for what it is – a criminal act which must be punished according to the law and not an ethnic conflict. Criminals must not be seen or treated as anything other than criminals and certainly not as representatives of any ethnic or religious group.
“We will not defeat crime by dividing ourselves. We can only overcome it by uniting against our common enemy – the criminals who terrorize our people.
“Nigeria will be a great loser if we were to break up; when we see the greatest economic advantage to our size about to come to life. In short, staying together as a collective affords each of our communities far more opportunities for prosperity than they would have if they went their separate ways. We have all that it takes to be truly more than the sum of our parts.”