The kidnapping and banditry ravaging the northwest and parts of Niger State in the North Central of the country seem to have overwhelmed the so-called Chief Security Officers of these states to a state of idea exhaustion. For these states government to resolve to sitting at a roundtable with these criminals would initially be unimaginable but that is the situation the Governors found themselves.
Of late, the Governor of Zamfara state, Bello Matawalle, announced that the state government would continue to negotiate the release of kidnapped victims until the military are able to find lasting solutions to the issue. The state government secured the release of some victims recently after the Jangebe school girls were released.
We submit that the current security menace in that part of the country has neither gone beyond workable solution nor has the situation degenerated to a war-like state, but the fold-arm approach of the state government and low premium placed on the lives and properties in these state provided fertile ground for criminal elements to ply their trade. The governor’s comment is therefore unguarded and careless. It is a comment that, rather than motivate the residents of the state, emboldens the criminals.
On the one hand we are worried about the utterances of Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, a self-styled spokesperson of the bandits terrorising Niger, Zamfara and some other states in that region. The cleric who has link with the bandits and have been the middleman reportedly facilitating negotiations between the criminals and the government called on the media to stop referring to the bandits as ‘criminals’. He accused the press of being the culprit for the manner in which they report the activities of these bandits. “You’re emphasising on criminality, even the press are criminals too because they are putting oil into fire. These people are listening to you, you should not address them as criminals if you want them to succumb,” he said.
We wondered why the respected cleric would decide to pressure the Government to see the bandits from a contradictory perspective. We are of the belief that Sheikh Gumi is only a front for some elements cashing in on the devilish acts of the bandits and want the country to live with such acts.
The government at both the state and the Federal must as a matter of urgency put a lasting solution to the bandits ravaging that part of the country. Tolerating acts like banditry is nothing but a call for anarchy and a license for other forms of criminal activities to sprout in other parts of the country.
We call on political and religious leaders to guard their utterances on issues of security while their opinions are not laced with sentiment. They must have the courage to call a spade a spade and not just a tool for packing sand. We demand that proactive measure should be activated to put a permanent end to banditry while the culprits are dealt with according to the law of the country.
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