FORMER vice president Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has expressed fears that armed bandits may soon become so accepted that they may even apply for registration with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and seek listing at the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).
Of late, there has been a massive escalation in banditry across Nigeria with hoodlums kidnapping innocent people at will for huge ransoms. President Muhammadu Buhari has been severely criticised for not standing up to the bandits as well as the Fulani cattle herdsmen because he is seen as sympathetic to them.
Alhaji Abubakar, who ran for president at the last elections in 2019, lamented that bandits have been allowed to operate openly across Nigeria. He stressed the need to fix the challenges of banditry before it become a disaster, saying Nigeria has become a safe haven for bandits and kidnappers.
“We needed to fix Nigeria to avoid sleep-walking our way towards disaster. Yes, the Chibok girls had been kidnapped and held in captivity seven years ago.
“Yes, conflicts between herders and farmers had been with us before 2016. But who would have thought that our country would become a haven for kidnappers and all manner of bandits to the extent that their nefarious activities would become a major industry?
“They have been allowed to operate so openly and brazenly that it would surprise no one if they applied for registration with the CAC and listing on the NSE. Five years ago, the Abuja-Kaduna Road was not a virtual no-go area, the southeast was not a virtual war-zone and Amotekun was not needed to protect lives and property in the southwest,” Alhaji Abubakar added.
Lately, bandits have been terrorising people across northern Nigeria and of late have stepped up attacks on schools and religious centres. Several students and religious worshippers have been abducted, killed and ransom collected by bandits, with the most affected states being Niger, Zamfara, Kaduna, and Katsina.
Despite their activities, popular Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi had called for a blank amnesty for bandits. This has attracted widespread condemnation from civil society groups who want them to pay for their crimes.