The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has challenged State Governors to take proactive steps to stem the tide of banditry and kidnappings in their domain.
BMO said in a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke that it is an established fact that both have always been State offences, as recently reaffirmed by the Federal Government.
“For some time now, some Governors had practically washed their hands off security challenges in their States and rather gave the impression that there was nothing they could do.
“But in reality, the emergent security threat of mass abduction and banditry are State offences in spite of fancy new names for kidnapping and armed robbery.
“So, rather than grandstand and play politics while criminal elements including militia groups engage in banditry and abductions, many Governors actually have the wherewithal to work in conjunction with security agencies to check the trend.
“Like many Nigerians, we know some State Governors who claimed to lack the authority to order a clampdown on criminal elements use same agents of State to hound and arrest journalists and right activists to the extent of prosecuting them in court.
“So it beggars belief that these Governors have succeeded in convincing some Nigerians that they have absolutely no control over security agencies, yet they hold weekly or monthly security meetings with heads of all security agencies in their States.
“We appeal to members of the public not to be deceived by the lackadaisical attitude of such Governors at a time a few others are using same security agents to carry out legitimate orders against criminal elements and anarchists,” the group added.
BMO also cited examples of how some states have been using existing or new laws to prosecute suspected kidnappers and armed robbers in the country.
“We invite Nigerians to note that several states have laws dating back to 2003, prescribing punishment ranging from lengthy prison terms to outright execution for kidnapping, depending on the severity of the offence.
“There are indeed recent examples of ongoing prosecution of kidnappers by State Governments in line with extant laws like in the case of the so-called billionaire kidnapper Chukwudi Dumee Onuamadike, popularly known as Evans, in Lagos, and that of five suspects involved in the 2018 bank robbery in Offa.
“So against the backdrop of the reaffirmation by Information Minister Lai Mohammed that banditry and abductions are State offences, we are going beyond our previous call on State Governors to do more to check insecurity by challenging them to play a more decisive role by either enforcing existing laws or putting new ones in place that would serve either as deterrent or punishment.
“In Lagos for example, section 269(a) of the criminal law of the state 2011 punishes kidnapping, where a ransom is demanded with imprisonment for 21 years while some other States view it as a capital offence that is punishable by death.
“We are not saying that Federal authorities do not have roles to play, but several State Governments have not been living up to the responsibilities of their office.”
The group also urged Nigerians to cooperate with security agencies to make it easier for them to tackle insecurity in the country.