FG: Kidnapping, banditry not federal offences

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The Federal Government on Tuesday berated the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for displaying crass ignorance that kidnapping and banditry are not federal offences.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed at a media briefing in Abuja, said it was shocking that PDP ruled the nation for 16 years, yet ignorant of the legal structure.
Mohammed was responding to an allegation by the opposition party that kidnappers and bandits were not being brought to book by the Federal Government.
“The PDP alleged that kidnappers and bandits are not being brought to justice. This is apparently aimed at the Federal Government.
“The PDP should therefore, call out the states, including those being controlled by it, to ensure a rigorous prosecution of arrested kidnappers and bandits.
“Meanwhile, PDP conveniently forgot that as far as terrorism, a federal offence is concerned, this Federal Government has successfully prosecuted thousands of Boko Haram members in Kainji, as part of a continuing exercise.
“We are now seeking the cooperation of the judiciary to continue with the trial of arrested terrorists,’’ he said.
The minister said the Federal Government was conscious of the challenges facing the nation and doing everything possible to tackle them.
While calling on Nigerians to support the efforts of the government to tackle the challenges, Mohammed advised those bent on playing cheap politics with the challenges to have a rethink.
He also admonished PDP to stop playing politics with national challenges.
Mohammed specifically berated the PDP, saying the party was playing cheap politics with the issue of security during a media briefing the party addressed on Monday.
He said the party, at the briefing, had accused  President Muhammadu Buhari and his government of  running a ‘government of exclusion’.
The minister, however,  said the party was playing the ostrich by refusing to face the “painful facts and unpleasant truth’’ on the efforts of the Federal Government in engaging relevant stakeholders and tackling security challenges headlong.
“The PDP accused this Federal Government of not engaging and of running a government of exclusion, forgetting, conveniently, that this Federal Government has consistently engaged Nigerians on topical national issues.
“The issues included security, the fight against corruption, terrorism, infrastructure and farmer-herder conflict.
“The Town Hall Meeting series, which we launched in 2016, has so far been held 18 times across Nigeria.
“It’s always a no-holds-barred opportunity for the government to engage with critical stakeholders, briefing them on government policies and programmes and getting their feedbacks, thus ensuring inclusion and deepening of democracy,’’ he said.
The minister said the suggestions reeled out by the opposition party as way out of the current challenges facing the nation were already contained in the outcome of the town hall meeting on national security held in Kaduna on April 8.
“Unfortunately, the recommendations by the PDP have exposed the opposition party’s gimmickry, and the fact that it was merely playing politics with serious national issues, especially security.
“Had it not been so, and had it done its homework properly, the PDP would have known that most of those same recommendations were already contained in the outcome of the town hall meeting,’’ he said.
The minister listed the 10-point recommendations from the town hall meeting which included an urgent need for political restructuring and not separation.
He said the meeting also recommended that governance should be based on law rather than the whims and caprices of human beings and must be obeyed as all persons are equal before the law.
Mohammed said it was also recommended at the meeting that the judiciary should be decentralised and reformed through constitutional amendment to remove the unitary control of the Supreme Court.
He said the meeting also recommended: “That governments at all levels should ensure free, qualitative and compulsory Primary Education for all children of school age.
“That the military, police and other security agencies should be expanded in number, retrained, provided with modern equipment and technology to cope with emerging security challenge.
“That both religious and traditional leaders should encourage and promote inter-marriages for unity as contained in the 1999 Constitution
“That the establishment of State Police should be supported by the National and State Houses of Assembly to enable State Governments have firm control in addressing security issues.”
Mohammed also said that it was recommended at the meeting that traditional rulers should be given their age-long role of maintaining peace and security within their domain.
He said stakeholders further agreed that local government autonomy should be  actualised to enable local councils have control of their areas, including the ungoverned spaces in tackling security challenges.
The minister said the forum agreed that farmers-herders clashes should be addressed by establishment of ranches and grazing reserves with modern amenities.
“Conveniently, the PDP did not acknowledge this national engagement that featured panelists from academia and civil society,’’ he said.
Mohammed disclosed that the resolutions had been presented before the National Economic Council (NEC) for consideration and action.
He said NEC, as a prelude to adopting the recommendations, had directed all governors to engage in state-wide consultation on them and revert to the Council at its next meeting.
The minister admonished the opposition PDP to stop “fooling itself’’ by playing politics with issues of national security.

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