The minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed says Nigeria Governors have stopped negotiating with bandits.
He stated that Governors made a U-turn when they realised that the funds were given to bandits for surrendering their arms and ammunitions, were used to procure more arms and ammunitions in continuation of their nefarious activities.
The minister who disclosed this when he featured on Nigerian Television Authority, NTA’s ‘Good Morning Nigeria’ programme last week, however failed to mention the names of the Governors.
He explained that Governors whom he claim are the hardest heat in attacks by Boko Haram and banditry, embarked on the voyage self- expedition probably due to ignorance and pressure from insecurity in their States.
Mohammed said, “Erroneously, they had thought they could negotiate with them because what a Governor wants is peace, good governance. If an intermediary comes with a bandit and the intermediary see’s him as repented, probably you may want to believe him. But today, I don’t think any of those Governors will deal with any bandit in terms of surrender of no surrender.
“But the truth of the matter is that the Governors have now found out that you do not negotiate with bandits. Go out, don’t spare them and be ruthless in your attack on them.
“At a point in time, they all thought that they could negotiate with these people. But the moment found out that the more money that you give them, the more ammunition they buy – It was criminality. This is the difference between Boko Haram and banditry. One is being ruled by ideology however crazy it may be while the other (banditry), is just pure criminality.
“I remember a Governor told us that he got a letter from somebody who said in their family, all that they have been doing is banditry. He was advising the Governor on what to do. Banditry started more than a Century ago. How we got to where we are is not a matter for today. Of course lack of governance have added to it.
“When you are a Governor, you are under pressure. Don’t forget that these bandits are subjects of the Governors themselves…During this meeting we held in Katsina. The Emir of Daura and others were all there…It is not as if they (bandits) are ghosts. They (bandits) live within the Communities”, the minister said.
He particularly commended the Governors in the North Easters and North Western Nigeria for taking steps to address insecurity in the region, adding that the deployment 10 Super Tucano jets into the terrorists and bandits have been defeated.
“Today, with the recent acquisition of platforms by the military especially the Air Force, the heat is on. I am glad to say that we have received 10 out of the 12 Super Tucano jets. We hope that the next two weeks, the other two will arrive. And when they are now launched fully, it will be a game changer. Already, we are already feeling and seeing the effects”, he said.
The minister also explained denied allegation that the federal government is softer on insurgents than other bandits and subversive elements in the Country, emphasizing that there neither the federal government nor the Nigerian military draw any distinction between bandits and insurgents who are driven by misguided religious ideology.
According to Mohammed, “In some cases, Boko Haram and banditry, dovetail. It’s a sort of handshake in some areas. In some areas, it is the same terrorists that had been flush out from the North East that are joining hands with the bandits and creating problems in the North Central region of Nigeria. And that is why the military does not make a distinction between bandits and terrorists in their ferocious attacks against them.
“You see, we will continue to have this problem of Boko Haram and bandits working together as long as the military to be relentless in their attacks…That is why there is this temporary alignment between bandits and Boko Haram.
“But the good thing about it is that it never last. In Zamafara State, I remember at a time when some of the leaders of banditry joined hands with leaders of Boko Haram. It didn’t last because while one was looking for money…”, he maintained.
Editor’s Note: The featured photograph of Katsina State governor, Aminu Bello Masari flanked by security personnel supervising the surrendering of fire arms and ammunition by ‘repentant bandits’ in the State. Photo. Credit: Google.