The Director-General, All Progressives Congress (APC) Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), Salihu Moh. Lukman, on Thursday advocated for the death penalty for kidnappers, bandits and their beneficiaries.
Reacting to the ultimatum given by Ondo state government that herders should evacuate the forests of Ondo, the Director General asserted that both the Federal government and Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, were to blame for the ongoing disagreement about the issue.
Lukman who revealed this in a statement made available to newsmen, said that while Akeredolu should have published his agreement with the herders community, the government would have referred to the issue as relevant.
The statement read: “While it is possible that initiatives are already taking place to resolve the issue between Ondo State government and federal government, to the extent that rather than announcements of resolutions of how initiatives to prevent and arrest crimes are hardly the case, confirms high degree of weakness in addressing national challenges. Instead, most of the public debate is about which group we want to support.
“Is there any Nigerian today who is not disturbed by the high rate of kidnapping, banditry and similar crimes? Such a Nigerian is either directly or remotely involved in kidnapping, banditry and all the crimes taking place.
“Nigerians need to wake up to the reality that preventing or arresting criminal activities such as kidnapping and banditry cannot be achieved by massaging our ethnic and religious sentiments. These are criminal activities that can hardly succeed without the collaboration of community and religious leaders.
“In fact, there are also strong allegations of even collaboration of security officials. We therefore need to forge stronger national unity in the country to be able to initiate the kind of reforms, which can produce the expected outcomes. In addition to forging stronger national unity, we should include the issue of stiffer sanctions for both the criminals and their collaborators, much more than what is provided in our current laws.
“There is no reason we should not consider the introduction of death penalties for both the criminals and their collaborators, for instance. The easy temptation is to politicise the debate,” he noted in the statement.
Reacting further, the PGF DG said:
“Luckily, on this matter, both Ondo State and the federal government are controlled by the APC. This simply confirms the liberal atmosphere in APC.
“APC controlled state government is not constrained to disagree with APC controlled federal government. Put differently, APC controlled federal government is not shy from publicly disagreeing with initiatives of APC controlled state government.
“On a matter as grave as the issue of kidnapping, banditry and other criminal activities, it will not be treated in APC as a family affair when it affects APC controlled state government but differently with state governments controlled by other parties.
“The issue is about responding to a national challenge. It is about Nigeria, which is why our leaders must exercise restraint when making public statements.
“If a statement is made, which potentially breach provisions of our constitution, any statement capable of activating our fault lines must be avoided. When we need to correct possible challenges arising from statements issued by our leaders, it mustn’t be a case of double jeopardy. Two wrongs will never make a right.
“At all times, our leaders and all of us, must carry the burden of national unity such that statements and proposals for reforms should inspire Nigerians to respect each other and recognise the incontestability of supporting initiatives from every part of the country in order to prevent or arrest crime, no matter its strength. As our party manifesto rightly emphasised, ‘It is no longer a question of choice but of will and courage!’”.
Lukman also commended Akeredolu’s objectives, saying, “No Nigerian, or indeed any rational person, irrespective of nationality, can oppose this laudable objective of the Ondo State government. Mallam Garba Shehu wouldn’t have disagreed with the objectives as expressed in the statement of Governor Akeredolu. But somehow, from all the media debate going on, this is hardly the case.”
“The response to the statement of Governor Akeredolu by Mallam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity), on January 19, 2021, is generating all manner of debate, which is completely at variance with the intended objective announced by Governor Akeredolu. “The debate also completely departs from Mallam Garba Shehu’s ‘call for restraint on both sides and urge the state government and the leadership of Fulani communities to continue their dialogue for a good understanding that will bring an urgent end, the nightmarish security challenges facing the state”, he added.