Governor Abubakar Sani-Bello of Niger has suggested taking care of bandits as one of key solutions to Nigeria’s myriad security crises.
Peoples Gazette learnt that 29 students, three school officials and 12 family members were abducted by a group of heavily armed bandits who stormed the boarding school in central Nigeria.
Amidst scramble to resolve the crisis, Mr. Sani-Bello met with Mr. Buhari at the State House on Thursday evening to provide updates and suggest a way out of the abduction crisis, which has gripped the country for two days.
The governor said his observations in the past few days indicate that the bandits are willing to turn a new leaf while hoping that the government forgives them of their misdeeds.
“We must have a long-lasting farmers/herdsmen conflict and I also understand some of these bandits are tired, they need to be looked after, they need to be engaged, they need to be trained,” Mr. Bello told the NTA shortly after meeting the president on Thursday night. “I think from what I’ve seen in the last few days, there’s hope that the government reorganizes and absolve some of these bandits, I think they’re ready to start a better life.”
His comments mirror an emerging pattern of understanding which northern leaders are increasingly showing towards armed attackers raving the region.
On Thursday afternoon, Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara said the bandits who have over the years caused havoc in several parts of the country deserve sympathy from Nigerians.
According to Mr. Matawalle some bandits take laws into their hands after being “cheated by so-called the vigilante group.”
The governor claims that the menace comes as a form of revenge for the bandits’ settlements and properties that have also been destroyed by vigilante groups.
“Some of them are living in settlements close to villages or towns. When there are military operations, the military will go and destroy their property and animals.
“They are angry with such actions sometimes. If you are talking to them, you can understand where they are coming from and their problems,” Mr. Matawalle said.
The comments were roundly criticised by Nigerians, who excoriated the governors for justifying violent crimes that had left thousands killed and millions displaced. The bandits have been largely identified as waging a war for control of mining sites scattered across the northern parts of the country, especially gold-rich northwest.
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