In his reaction, President Muhammadu Buhari described the abduction of school girls from Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, in Talata-Mafara local government area of Zamfara, on Friday as inhumane and totally unacceptable, saying:
“This administration will not succumb to blackmail by bandits who target innocent school students in the expectations of huge ransom payments.
“No criminal group can be too strong to be defeated by the government. The only thing standing between our security forces and the bandits are the rules of engagement.
“We have the capacity to deploy massive force against the bandits in the villages where they operate, but our limitation is the fear of heavy casualties of innocent villagers and hostages who might be used as human shields by the bandits.
“Our primary objective is to get the hostages safe, alive and unharmed.”
The President noted that “a hostage crisis is a complex situation that requires maximum patience in order to protect the victims from physical harm or even brutal death at the hands of their captors,” warning: “Let them not entertain any illusions that they are more powerful than the government.
“They shouldn’t mistake our restraint for the humanitarian goals of protecting innocent lives as a weakness or a sign of fear or irresolution.”
He appealed to state governments “to review their policy of rewarding bandits with money and vehicles, warning that the policy might boomerang disastrously.”
He also advised states and local governments to be more proactive by improving security around schools and their surroundings.