The Katsina State Governor, Aminu Bello Masari, revealed on Tuesday, 30th June that the North must be rid of bandits immediately. This development came about as the peace accord which his administration signed with the rampaging bandits terrorizing the state collapsed.
The rising attacks and general insecurity in the north-western part of Nigeria has been a source of concern for the governor and security apparatus of the nation for long. The attacks have especially been rampant in the Katsina axis where the president, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.) hails from.
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There have also been a number of protests in the state calling on the government to take action. This development must have moved Masari to make a u-turn on the amnesty policy and publicly declare that the amnesty program for the bandits has failed to work in reducing insecurity in the region.
But has the governor jeopardized the lives and property of the residents of the state by committing the proverbial sin of ‘negotiating with terrorists’?
A widely criticized amnesty deal to protect bandits which came into effect in late 2019 has only lasted seven months.
Nigerians were alarmed when leaders of bandit groups boasted on live television in a forum with the governor in September 2019.
Two separate peace deals were signed by Governor Masari and the bandits. The earliest deal being on January 15, 2017 which lasted for two years, and another deal between 4 and 9 September, 2019 which lasted barely seven months before it broke down.
But earlier in June, the governor was reported to have told journalists in an interactive session at the Government House that
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“The state government would no longer negotiate with the bandits because they had breached the agreement between them and government.”
While Governor Masari may have had the opinion that placating the bandits who were on rampage rustling cattle, kidnappings, burning villages, raiding farms and committing murder would work positively in improving the security and fortunes of the state.
However, bandits are known not to be satiated with the little crumbs offered them.
The peace deal saw significant reductions in attacks in some rural communities. However, recent resurgence with over 200 lives were lost in attacks in Danmusa, Dutsin-Ma, Kankara, Kurfi, Faskari, Batsari, Sabuwa and Safana Local Government Areas.
Another reality is that the military and police are either equipped enough or do not have adequate capacity to quell attacks in all the troubled spots, especially in the North.
While it can be said that Governor Bello Masari has committed the gaffe of negotiating with terrorists twice, he only did so for want of better options at achieving one of his primary duties – ensuring the security of lives and property of the people of Katsina state.
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