Offer repentant bandits amnesty like Niger Delta militants, Ango Abdullahi tells FG

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Chairman of the Northern Elders’ Forum, Ango Abdullahi, has asked the government to be lenient with repentant bandits by integrating them back into society through rehabilitation.

Abdullahi said this at the Northern people’s summit in Kaduna yesterday.

He said the government should only go after those who do not want to desist from crime.

The NEF chairman also advised the government to offer repentant bandits amnesty like Niger Delta militants noting that this will go a long way to rid the North of banditry.

“Those elements that show a genuine willingness to abandon criminality should be rehabilitated and integrated. Those who insist on pursuing criminality should be stoutly resisted by the Nigerian state and by communities,” he said.

“Those who attack and kill northerners must be stopped and be prosecuted.

“The entire phenomenon of armed criminality requires bold steps and policies to deal with it, and we should examine these and make our recommendations to those with responsibility to implement them.

“Even at this stage, however, I have to say that dealing with criminality, poverty, and destitution in the north will require a national effort to mitigate.

“The nation needs to prepare to consider massive investment in human capital development, infrastructure, and basic security if it will reverse the rising tide of frustrations, destitution and criminality which afflicts most of the north.

“Those who see this as an unnecessary concession to the region need to be reminded that this was precisely the approach that substantially resolved the Niger Delta militancy.

“The north needs not make this demand in hushed tones, or apologise for them.”

Abdullahi said banditry, insurgency, cultism, piracy and irredentism are threats to the nation, and they must be treated with a mindset that appreciates their roots, complexities and solutions in a national context.

He called on federal and northern state governments to design and implement plans for the domestication of herders, and also promote policies to improve the quality of life of Fulani herder communities.

He said the Nigerian state “must come to terms with the reality that its legitimate monopoly over the use of violence has been severely damaged, and it cannot build straw fences around communities to give them a false sense of security”.

Abdullahi added that it’s time to re-evaluate the current security arrangements and address limitations which encourage criminality.

With this position, Abdullahi has swelled the ranks of those demanding amnesty and rehabilitation for repentant bandits.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, prominent Islamic cleric, Ahmad Gumi have also called on the government to rehabilitate repentant bandits.

The duo made about 21 recommendations to the Federal Government, in a communiqué issued at the end of a closed-door meeting last week at Obasanjo’s presidential library.