The Minister of Police Affairs, Maigari Dingyadi, says repentant bandits are Nigerian citizens and the Federal Government has a responsibility to reintegrate them “peacefully and honourably into the society”.
He also said the window was still open for bandits to surrender to the government and be reintegrated into the wider society.
The minister spoke on Tuesday when he featured as a guest on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ current affairs programme.
Commenting on the ongoing onslaught against bandits in the North-West states of Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto, amongst others, Dingyadi said the government will continue to record successes against bandits as long as the security agencies continue to work in synergy.
“You are going to see more successes coming up in the next couple of days,” he said, adding that the security forces were working more on the precision of their intelligence and the sophistication of their equipment to achieve greater victory against the marauders.
Asked whether the window of amnesty is still open for bandits willing to surrender, the minister said, “When you talk of amnesty, it is a relative term and what the Federal Government is trying to say is that: Let us see those who have surrendered their arms, let us listen to them, let us chronicle them, let us receive them, we cannot just throw these people away because they are all Nigerians.
“Of course, they are criminals, they have committed atrocities, they have committed crimes, but according to the international laws, when you surrender from a war zone, you are not killed, you are not maimed, you are allowed to have your say. We are listening to them to see how we can integrate them into the larger society.
“What we are trying to do is to get them settled in their various communities, to let them have a kind of means of livelihood so that they can integrate peacefully and honourably into the society.”
Asked the second time whether the window for bandits to surrender is still open, Dingyadi said, “With all pleasure, anybody willing to surrender and do it honourably and honestly, government is ready to listen, government is ready to see what they can do to settle them down without much cost.
“As a nation we have responsibilities to our citizens, to integrate them with the little that we can afford to give them and we will continue to monitor what they are doing in their various communities to ensure that they don’t go back to their old days of armed banditry and all of them. We will monitor them and ensure that they don’t go back to their bad old days of armed banditry and kidnapping.”
Despite public outrage, Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle; his Katsina State counterpart, Aminu Masari; as well as Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum; had offered amnesty to supposed repentant bandits and terrorists who had killed, kidnapped and maimed thousands of innocent lives.
However, many of the bandits and terrorists had gone back to their dishonourable and vicious ways weeks after surrendering their arms and receiving cash and vehicle gifts from the governors.
In April 2021, a notorious bandit, Auwalun Daudawa, returned to the forest about a week after he surrendered his weapons and was granted amnesty by the Zamfara State governor.
Daudawa was known for masterminding the abduction of over 300 schoolboys from a secondary boarding school in Kankara, Katsina State, in December 2020.
Daudawa had surrendered 20 AK-47 rifles, 20 Magazines, one General Purpose Machine Gun, one Rocket-Propelled Grenade and several ammunitions to the Zamfara State government on the day he repented with five of his comrades.
But the incorrigible criminal was later killed by a rival bandit gang when he went back to the trenches a week after he received Matawalle’s amensty deal, with many Nigerians knocking the governor and his other colleagues for rewarding bad behaviour with kind gestures.
Just this week, Matawalle said Zamfara was no longer interested in dialoguing with bandits as they rejected the olive branch stretched at them earlier.
Matawalle vowed that the only option was for the security forces to flush the bandits out of the state.
For years, Nigeria’s North-West and North-East zones have been plagued with the twin security challenges of terrorism and banditry with many of the marauders camping in the vast forests and ungoverned spaces in the two zones.
As part of its efforts to crush the daredevil marauders, the Federal Government recently shut down some communication sites in Zamfara and Katsina to truncate communication means amongst the bandits and aid the military’s onslaught against the criminals. – Punch.