Former president Olusegun Obasanjo and Ahmad Gumi, prominent Islamic cleric, have asked the federal government to rehabilitate bandits who are willing to surrender.
The call was made after Gumi led a delegation to meet with Obasanjo in Abeokuta, Ogun state, on Sunday.
The meeting follows the recent attacks across the country by suspected bandits.
“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,” Obasanjo and Gumi said in a joint statement issued after the meeting.
“Since the end of the civil war, the military are the strongest and most potent instrument and symbol of national unity that we have and we must keep them so.
“State governments must have adequate means of providing security for their people and as chief executives and chief security officers of their states, they must have the means at their disposal to ensure security for all within their states.
“Federal government must be proactive, secure necessary and updated intelligence to deal with organised crimes and have common policy for the nation. 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.
“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 federal government working together.
“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.
“The hardened criminals must be hard hit with stick. Unlawful carrying of arms should be very seriously punished.”
They recommended that special courts should be created to deal promptly with cases of banditry, kidnapping, ransom demanding, and unlawful carrying of weapons.
They also called on Nigerians to desist from giving ethnic colouration to crime.
Gumi, who had visited some of the bandits in the forest, had earlier asked the government to grant them blanket amnesty.