Former president Olusegun Obasanjo and Ahmad Gumi, a prominent Islamic cleric, have called on the Federal Government to rehabilitate bandits who are willing to surrender.
They made the appeal in a joint statement issued after Gumi led a delegation to meet with Obasanjo in his home in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, on Sunday.
The meeting follows the recent attacks across the country by suspected bandits.
The two leaders also urged the federal and state governments to focus on improving the welfare of the people in terms of job opportunities and upscale human capacity development by widening access to quality education.
They also asked the government to go hard after the bandits who refuse to surrender, saying they must face the full wrath of the law.
The statement read: “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.”
Obasanjo and Gumi also urged the Federal Government to up the ante with regards to intelligence, while asking the state governors to provide security for their residents in line with their mandates as the chief security officers of their respective states.
The statement read: “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.
“Since the end of the civil war, the military are the strongest and most potent instrument and symbol of national unity that we have and we must keep them so.
“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.”
Obasanjo and Gumi also recommended that special courts should be created to deal promptly with cases of banditry, kidnapping, ransom demanding, and unlawful carrying of weapons.
They also called on Nigerians to desist from giving ethnic colouration to crime.