We won’t abandon our dialogue with bandits, says Matawalle

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Governor Bello Matawallechas said the government won’t abandon the ongoing dialogue with bandits to attain peace in the state.

Matawalle disclosed this while receiving renowned Islamic Scholar, Ahmad Mahmud Gumi, at the Government House on Thursday.

Matawalle noted that his administration will continue to dialogue with the bandits no matter what his political opponents say.

The governor has been intensely criticised over his suspicious interaction with insurgents in the North-Western part of the country.

Towards the tail end of last year some members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) blamed a governor in the Northwest for the growing insecurity in the region, adding that the governor was aiding banditry.

Though Matawalle’s name was not mentioned, the governor responded by saying governors elected on the platform of the APC, instead of attacking him, should have come to him for tips on how to tackle insurgency

Matawalle described the accusation as “unfounded and unfortunate ”

But barely a month after that another politician in Maradun accused the governor of buying hilux and other vehicles for bandits in the state.

The governor again defended himself by saying he truly bought new vehicles but they were distributed to security operatives in the state to enhance their operations.

But Gumi, who was in the state for a peace meeting with the gunmen, told the governor that “what is currently happening in Zamfara is insurgency and not banditry”.

He said the bandits had completely turned into insurgents following the bad treatment they experienced in the hands of the people of the state.

“In most of the bandits and Fulani camps we have visited in Zamfara, I come to understand that what is happening in the state is nothing but an insurgency,” he said.

Gummi maintained that most of the bandits he came across during his visit to Zamfara forests were only carrying weapons and attacking people because of persistent attacks and harassment from the vigilante group known as the Yansakai.

The Islamic cleric stated that most of the bandits he interacted with during his visit indicated their readiness to surrender their weapons and embrace peace if the Yansakai stopped attacking and killing them.

He commended Matawalle for introducing a platform to have a dialogue with the bandits as a means of ending banditry, calling on other governors to emulate him.

“Some people are of the view that the bandits should be fought and killed, but what we understand is that the majority of them are illiterates who need proper education and enlightenment,” he said.

Despite a peace agreement with the state government, bandits have continually attacked Zamfara communities, killing scores and abducting people for ransom.

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