Lai Mohammed, minister of information, says it is unfair to criticise Bello Matawalle, governor of Zamfara, for granting amnesty to bandits.
Auwalun Daudawa, the alleged mastermind of the abduction of some students from a secondary school in Kankara, Katsina state, “repented” and was granted amnesty.
Also, a few days ago, Ahmad Gumi, a prominent Islamic cleric, met with some suspected bandits in Zamfara forests and appealed for peace.
Reacting, Nasir el-Rufai, governor of Kaduna, had objected to the idea of holding peace talks with bandits, saying they do not deserve to be forgiven or compensated.
But speaking on the issue when he featured on ‘Kakaaki’, a programmed by AIT, Mohammed said criticising the Zamfara government’s approach would be unfair as each state deals with insecurity differently.
Asked if the federal government endorses Matawalle’s approach, Mohammed said there are no “one-cap-fits-all solutions” and that the federal government will not dissuade anybody from engaging the bandits.
He added that the government will always respect the views of state governments.
“What I know is when you are fighting insurgency, you use both kinetic and non-kinetic approach. Granting amnesty to notorious drug barons, militants is not a new thing. You see, you need to be in the shoes of the Zamfara state government or governor to appreciate what are the issues at stake? Why he has done that,” Mohammed said.
“Don’t forget that to a lot of extents, the state governors are their own chief security officers.
“When the Kankara boys were kidnapped it was not the state government that had the military or armed forces that freed them, when we are dealing with insurgency, kidnapping, banditry, you are interested in the bigger picture; how do we restore peace?
“If for instance, if granting amnesty to one notorious kidnapper is going to give me peace in my state, I might take that decision. If granting amnesty to one repentant warlord would help me capture a thousand bandits, I might take that decision. So, don’t just look at what is in the public place, understand the very high complexity of managing insurgency and banditry and kidnapping.
“The governor of a state understands the dynamics of the state and takes decision but it will be unfair of us to criticise him without knowing why he did and I want to believe that every governor work together with the security forces in their own state, so, it is not as straightforward as we think.”
On the proliferation of arms and declaring bandits as terrorists, the minister said: ”I don’t think the FG looks at kidnappers and bandits as anything but terrorists. Take a step back and ask yourself how come we have this proliferation of arms in the entire Sahel.
“The moment Libya disintegrated, proliferation of light arms became a phenomenon. If there is no peace in Libya, Mali, Niger, there is no way we are going to have peace in Nigeria or anywhere along that line.
“You proscribe known groups with names. It is not whether they are proscribed or not but the way they are treated. Does the government treat them with kids’ gloves, no.”