Zamfara State SA to the Governor on Media and Communication, Zailani Bappa, has succinctly argued that the most effective way to curb banditry still remains by Amnesty.
So over the past few years, terrorism has been the order of the day in the northern part of Nigeria with an Islamic sect, Boko Haram terrorizing the North Eastern part while the other sect, Bandits, as called, are terrorizing the North Western part and now moving towards North central, particularly Niger state where not less than 3 cases of mass kidnapping were recorded.
Although, the victims were freed eventually after the interceding of a northern cleric, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi who has been standing as intermediary between the Bandits and the Federal Government, some believe that a ransom was paid to these bandits in order to secure the release of the victims.
The Federal Government, from the past administration, Goodluck Jonathan, till present, have been putting effort to ensure the end to that menace but it keeps getting worse with large number of murder recorded.
While Nigerians have mixed feelings on why and how the terrorists keep getting stronger and preferring solution, the Special Adviser on Media and Communication to the Zamfara state governor, Zailani Bappa, has claimed that, currently, the best way to curb banditry is still by giving them amnesty. An interview he had with a member of Punch Journalist revealed. Read below:
People, like Sheik Ahmad Gumi inclusive, have proposed amnesty for bandits operating in the North. What is your take?
“Anybody following Zamfara State government policy will know that this is our stance and still what we have been standing for. When Governor Matawalle came to office in 2019, the 1st thing he did in June 2019 which was just a week after his inauguration, was to commence a peace talk with the bandits. The reason is because his belief was that after 8 to 9 years of the military and police effort to suppress the bandits, the attacks kept increasing. There were some periods, in just a day, you’d hear of about 200 people murdered by the bandits. However, after the initiation of this peace dialogue, anyone following the news will agree that the attacks have notably gone down. The Governor Matawalle succeeded in pacifying many of the banditry groups – they have created many groups; they have created numerous camps in bushes. Now, some of them have actually put down their weapons and are now living peacefully with us in the towns. Some of them are even assisting in this peaceful talk with those who are not in for the peace deal. More than 3 hundred weapons, the least of which is an AK-47, have been laid down by these bandits. Not less than 1,000 victims have been set free without any form of ransom paying, and today, all the markets closed in the past administration have reopened. All roads not motorable before are now set to be utilized. People who could not go to farm now can. So positive changes have been seen due to this dialogue because, in society where there are conflicts like this, when the bandits are attacked, they run and will still come back again. If you get them killed, they will bring in more members. You only need to sit down, have a conversation with them, and try to find out what their griefs are. In our findings, 95% of these bandits are Fulani and they have been stating what their problems are, and I also feel from their dialogue with Sheikh Gumi, they say they attack as a result of injustice meted out to them. They made it known that their cattle have been stolen, they’ve been attacked and have lost their families in the process. They only live with their cattle, don’t even have the privilege go to school. So when their only sources of livelihood is being taken away from them, what do they do? They will always find a wat to retaliate, and that is why they are seen in possession of arms. So what Gumi is currently doing is just validating our own stance, we believe, that the peace dialogue (amnesty) is the best method to put this issue to an end. Not that we are saying the military should not continue with their job, and that is why the governor has said he believes in the carrot-and-stick approach. Those who are willing to surrender will get amnesty, but those who refuse to surrender will be taken care of by the military. This is exactly our stand!”
So what is your own take?