Kidnappers Must Be Treated As Terrorists – Tinubu

President Bola Tinubu emphasized a firm stance against individuals involved in heinous crimes like kidnapping, urging that they be treated as terrorists. Speaking at a Ramadan dinner with members of the Federal judiciary, led by Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, on Tuesday, Tinubu reaffirmed the government’s determination to combat banditry. He denounced kidnappers as cowardly, incapable of facing the might of the Nigerian Armed Forces.

Nigeria grapples with escalating security challenges, primarily terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, and oil theft. The North-West and North-East regions have witnessed a surge in insurgent and bandit attacks over the past decade. Terror groups, entrenched in forests within these zones, have perpetrated atrocities, including killings and abductions of residents, travelers, and vulnerable targets such as women and children.

The Tinubu administration has maintained a no-negotiation policy with bandits, despite their persistent use of kidnapping-for-ransom. Recent incidents, such as the mass abduction of 137 schoolchildren from Kuriga in Kaduna State and the abduction of pupils and staff members from Apostolic Faith School in Ekiti State, underscore the severity of the situation. Although some victims were eventually freed, tragedies like the death of the school bus driver in Eporo-Ekiti highlight the dire consequences of these criminal acts.

The Kuriga abduction adds to a series of mass kidnappings of schoolchildren in Nigeria, including infamous incidents in Chibok, Dapchi, Kankara, and Kagara. These incidents have provoked global condemnation, with many students enduring prolonged captivity and abuse at the hands of their captors. Tinubu’s declaration reflects a broader imperative to address the scourge of kidnapping and terrorism, safeguarding the nation’s security and protecting its citizens from such grave threats.

”We must treat kidnappers as terrorists,” the President said, according to a statement by his spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale.

“They are cowardly. They have been degraded. They look for soft targets. They go to schools and kidnap children and cause disaffection. We must treat them equally as terrorists in order to get rid of them, and I promise you we will get rid of them,” the President said at the dinner attended by serving and retired judicial officers, including two former CJNs, Justice Mahmud Mohammed and Justice Walter Onnoghen.

On the review of salaries of judicial officers, the President pledged that his administration would continue to implement necessary reforms to improve the welfare and working conditions of judicial officers.

”I recognise that the judiciary has one of the most unrewarded responsibilities. They are yet to modernize equipment and recordkeeping, and their progress towards improvement is slow.

”When you look at the career path of a judicial officer, they cannot practice the vocation for which they were trained after retirement.

”While the framers of the law may have their reasons, I perceive this differently and see this from a fair compensation angle that should benefit all,” the President stated.

President Tinubu expressed gratitude to the judiciary for their dedicated service to the nation, acknowledging their role in upholding the respectability of the judicial arm of government.

“We will continue to support one another and bring Nigeria to that glorious dawn,” the President concluded.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria commended the President for the honour of hosting judicial officers to a Ramadan dinner, his commitment to judicial reforms, and for improving the welfare of judicial officers in the country.

“May the Lord continue to bless you and your administration. Let your ship land and berth beautifully. We shall continue to pray for your administration because there are many good things in the pipeline for Nigerians,” he prayed.

Justice Ariwoola commended the administration for achieving a significant milestone by appointing a full complement of 21 justices to the Supreme Court, a feat he described as unprecedented.

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, expressed gratitude to the President for forwarding the executive bill titled, “Judicial Office Holders, Salaries and Allowances, etc, Bill 2024″ to the National Assembly.

Highlighting the stagnant state of judges’ salaries and emoluments since 2007, Fagbemi commended the President’s courage, determination, and compassion in taking decisive action.

”It takes a man with a great heart, determination, and consideration to do what the President did. More than 300.3 percent increase has been given to the judges. The President has done his own part, never mind that the bill is still with the National Assembly.

”In my short stay as the Attorney-General, I have come to observe that anything that concerns the judiciary, you are very much interested in it, and I thank you for your abiding interest in the judiciary,” the Minister of Justice said.