Olusegun Obasanjo, a former Nigerian President, and Ahmad Gumi, prominent Islamic cleric, have asked the Federal Government to rehabilitate terror gangs willing to surrender.
The call came amidst tensions from terror gangs who are abducting citizens and attacking places in the Northwest and North-central regions of the country.
In March, the United Nations said the violence forced 77,000 people to flee to neighbouring Niger.
Since the gangs’ evolution, there have been divided opinions on finding lasting solutions to their nefarious activities.
On Sunday, Gumi, who has been canvassing amnesty for the terrorists, met with Obasanjo over the issue in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Southwest Nigeria.
After the meeting, they both agreed that a government amnesty programme for terrorists who are willing to lay down their arms might help reduce the spate of the attacks.
“Wean those who are ready to be weaned out of the bushes and crime, settle and rehabilitate them, give them skills, empower them and let them have employment,” they said in a joint statement issued after the meeting.
“The hardened criminals must be hit hard with a stick. Unlawful carrying of arms should be very seriously punished.”
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who has repeatedly said his administration would not consider granting amnesty to any criminal group threatening the country’s peace, has also ordered the security forces to shoot down any person with illegal possession of AK-47 assault rifles.
Obasanjo and Gumi also demanded the Nigerian government to be proactive, secure necessary and updated intelligence to deal with organised crimes with a common policy for the country.
“It is not solving the problem when one state goes for negotiation and molly-cuddling of criminals and another one goes for shooting them. Nor should one state go for ransom payment and another one going against,” they said in the statement.
“Education is one main key to solve the problem in the long run but it must start now. The 14 million children that should be in school and are out of school must be put in school with local authorities, state governments and the federal government working together.”
They also demanded the establishment of special courts to “deal promptly with cases of banditry, kidnapping, ransom demanding and unlawful carrying of weapons.”
Meanwhile, they also urged Nigerians to desist from blame game, ethnicising and religionising crimes, while calling for respect for all regardless of ethno-religious difference.