Governor Sani Bello of Niger State has said there will no longer be dialogue between armed bandits and the state government.
He, however, said the government would rehabilitate and reintegrate into society, bandits who have genuinely repented.
According to a statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mary Noel-Berje, the governor made this public when he met with members of the Vigilante Group of Nigeria(VGN) at Kasuwan Garba in Mariga Local Government Area of the state.
The statement noted that the governor met with vigilante group to boost their morale.
“I am here to thank the vigilantes, boost their moral and to offer more support from the state government so that they can continue to support the police and other security agencies in the fight against bandits and other criminal tendencies”, Noel-Berje quoted the governor to have said.
He said any bandit that surrenders his weapons and repents from his heinous way of living would be forgiven, and provided with a means of livelihood which would not necessarily include any cash backing.
Speaking on why the government is no longer considering negotiations with the bandits, Bello stated that it has been found out from experience that the “repentant bandits”, after collecting cash from the dialogue option, purchase more weapons and return to their old ways of banditry.
Meanwhile, the governor assured members of the vigilante group that his administration is working on compensation for the families of those that paid the ultimate price in the course of fighting bandits.
He stressed that the exercise, when it finally begins, would be a continuous one.
Bello commended the vigilantes for their efforts in complementing other security outfits in the fight against bandits urging them not to relent.
The governor promised to provide pump action guns and other sophisticated weapons for the vigilantes to improve their onslaught against banditry.
“We are not going to disband vigilante because, even when banditry stops, the vigilante will remain to form a kind of security within the community”, he said.
Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy Affairs and Community Development, Abdulmalik Sarkin Daji said the vigilantes have been working in synergy with security agencies.
Barrister Sarkin Daji added that vigilantes have been able to secure back about 20 villages that were ousted by bandits adding that all villagers have returned to their ancestral homes.
He appreciated the Commissioner of Police for providing more officers to the troubled Local Government Areas of the state which were hitherto in the hands of bandits.
Chairman Mariga local government, Idris Ibrahim, appreciated the efforts and support of the Governor in the renewed fight against banditry, said his administration has recruited 50 vigilantes each from the four districts in the local government and they’re working in conjunction with members of the community policing committee.
He appealed to the Governor to provide more motorcycles and vehicles to the vigilante in the local government.
Bandits have been terrorising northwest states recently.
Last month they abducted some students and staff of Government Science Secondary school in Kagara.
Those abducted from the school have since been released.
Some of the governors in the region have indicated readiness to enter into peace talks with the bandits but Governors El-Rufai of Kaduna and Bello Masari of Katsinahave said they won’t dialogue with them.
While El-Rufai said any bandit caught in his state would be killed, Masari said experience noted that experience has taught him that bandits don’t repent.
He noted that the peace talks his administration had with the bandits fours ago was fruitful.
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