Birnin-Gwari Emirate Progressives’ Union, BEPU, has urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to disregard calls by Senator Ahmed Yeriman, former governor of Zamfara State and some other advocates to negotiate with bandits.
The chairman of BEPU, Ishaq Kasai disclosed that the calls reflect the advocates’ lack of understanding of the structural formation and divergent goals of the bandits in our forests who are causing mass destruction, death and destabilization within the country.
BEPU said that to successfully bring an end to banditry business in Nigeria, all bandits’ camps in our various forests must be dislodged; as anything short of this will only be a window-dressing not lasting solution.
He disclosed that engaging in negotiations with bandits will never yield significant positive outcomes because past experiences have demonstrated that criminal elements such as bandits, often exploit negotiations as a means to buy time, regroup and strengthen their positions.
“They view negotiations as a sign of weakness of the government, which emboldens them to continue their violent activities. We recall that many of such negotiations were carried out with bandits by many state and local governments and individual communities in the Northwest region of the country.
“Past experiences from areas where this type of negotiation was carried out showed that the bandits only exploited the opportunity to receive more money, easily trafficked illicit drugs, acquired more arms and raped women including teenagers and married ones. In fact, all the communities and governments that entered such negotiations with the bandits have later regretted it.
“Therefore we want to draw the attention of Mr President to the fact that, going for such negotiation will bring setback and distraction in his administration’s perceived determination to bring lasting solution to the insecurity situation bedeviling Nigeria”, BEPU said.
BEPU further disclosed that negotiating with the bandits will also send a dangerous message to Nigerians particularly rural dwellers signaling government’s incapacity, weakness and official acknowledgement of parallel governments within the Nigerian State.
Credible News reports that after several failed attempts by previous administrations in Zamfara and Katsina states to end bloodshed in their jurisdictions by negotiating with bandits, Senator Sani Yerima Bakura has called on the government to initiate a fresh dialogue with the bandits terrorising the North West region.
In an interview with BBC Hausa service, monitored by The Guardian, the former governor of Zamfara State argued that if the bandits were treated like former militants in the Niger Delta region, the problem of banditry could be overcome. He emphasised that engaging in dialogue with bandits was the solution to the prevailing insecurity in the North West region of the country.