Southwest governors have asked bandits and everyone hiding in the forests to leave or face the wrath of security agencies.
Katsina State Governor Aminu Bello Masari, who announced this decision, said it was taken in their renewed drive to flush out illegal elements and hoodlums who launch sporadic attacks from those forests.
The governor spoke during a special Hausa programme aired on Liberty TV.
He said: “Whoever remains in the forest would be regarded as a bandit. Therefore, the security forces will deal with them ruthlessly.”
He said the governors would forgive bandits who surrender their arms.
The Defence Headquarters yesterday said full military assault would be deployed against bandits in the North as ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Minister of Defence, Major General Salihi Magashi (rtd), said the country was in a critical situation following the resurgent terrorists’ attacks, banditry and abductions.
He said the security challenges required Nigerians’ support.
The minister spoke at a National Defence and Security Summit organised by the Defence Headquarters.
Its theme was: Promoting kinetic operations as a major plank for counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency in Nigeria.
Magashi said the Federal Government had deployed several approaches in fighting insecurity, including force and dialogue.
He said there were causes for serious national security concerns, such as terrorism, insurgency, farmers/herders conflicts, ethno-religious conflicts, kidnapping and banditry.
Magashi said: “The Federal Government has inalienable responsibilities to provide security to the people and territories of Nigeria and would not shirk these responsibilities.
“The Federal Government is single-mindedly committed to the sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity and security of the nation.
“We will leave no stone unturned to deliver on these national aspirations and values.
“Admittedly, the Presidential directive to the Armed Forces and other security agencies underscores the use of all the instruments of power to stabilise the security situation in the nation and provide good governance as well as promote peace, stability and development.
“The focused and objective use of kinetic operations, therefore, becomes very obvious. The Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security agencies in league with strategic Ministries Departments and Agencies are critical to this security initiative.”