Matawalle says dialogue, the best option to end banditry activities

By Peter Usman/:

Contrary to the assertion of Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, his Kaduna counterpart, the Governor of Zamfara state, Bello Matawalle, has affirmed that he will continue to negotiate with bandits who are terrorising his state to convince them to drop their gun and stop their criminal activities.

Matawalle, while speaking to Journalists in Yola, the capital of Adamawa State on Wednesday, said dialogue remains the only option to end banditry in the country.

His position was contrary to that canvassed in an interview with the Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, on Monday by El-Rufai.

The Kaduna Governor had insisted in the interview that rather than negotiation or offer of amnesty, any bandit arrested in his state will be killed.

El-Rufai was reacting to suggestions by Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, that the bandits should be granted amnesty and compensated to convince them to end their ongoing killings, looting, kidnapping and other criminal activities across the states in Northwest part of the country.

Gumi gave the advice after his well publicized visits to gun-touting bandits in their forest abodes in Kaduna and Zamfara States.

While affirming his total rejection of Gumi’s suggestion, El-Rufai said his State is at war with the bandits and eliminating them is the only solution to put an end to their criminality in the North-west region.

“Anybody that thinks a Fulani herdsman that is engaged in kidnapping for ransom and is earning millions of naira would go back to his former life of getting N100,000 after selling a cow in a year, must be deceiving himself. Why should we compensate them after killing people, destroyed their houses? Who offended them?,” El-Rufai queried.

But the Governor of Zamfara, who has been negotiating with the criminals rejected the option of total war against the bandits.

Matawalle, who is already implementing an ‘amnesty scheme’ of ‘cows for guns’ for so called repentant bandits said dialogue remains the best and only option to douse tension and bring an end to banditry in Zamfara and beyond.

“I have been always saying, the best solution and option to tackle banditry is to seek for dialogue with the bandits. If really we want to end this banditry activity, we have to sit on a round table and negotiate.

“Because, through dialogue and reconciliation, we are able to secure the release of many people who were under captivity of kidnappers. So, the best way out for my colleagues, Governor is for them to subscribe for dialogue,” Matawalle said.

He maintained that the dialogue option was not meant not to fight for those that refused to repent, but the government was using carrot and stick approaches.

The Governor averred that some bandits that are prepared for dialogue, government should sit with them and listen to their grievances, if any. But those that refused to take path in dialogue we fight them.

“Because, as a governor, my number one priority is to ensure peace and stability, and to ensure people are sleeping with two eyes closed,” he added.

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