In light of the appeal for President Bola Ahmad Tinubu to engage in negotiations with bandits, made by the former Governor of Zamfara State, Dr. Mustapha Inuwa, the former Secretary to the Government of Katsina State, expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of such negotiations. According to him, attempting to negotiate with the bandits would prove futile since they are unlikely to accept any such offer.
Dr. Inuwa who doubles as the Chairman, Amnesty Programme to end banditry in the state, said it is impossible for the bandits to leave banditry and embrace negotiation because of how kidnapping has become lucrative.
He maintained that no legitimate work can fetch them the kind of money they make from the banditry activities.
He suggested use of force as the way out while calling for concerted efforts on the part of both security agencies and the respective Governors of problem states to bring the bandits down on their kneels.
According to him, “I believe it is very wrong advice for a former governor and senator especially from a state worst hit by the activities of bandits to even contemplate negotiating with the bandits despite the atrocities committed by them in these states and Nigeria as a whole.
“We tried from 2017 to 2019 but it didn’t work because they are not sincere. We were compelled to go into that because we realized the security agencies were not doing what they ought to do.
So we were under serious pressure from the people as they looked up to us to bring the menace to an end. And that was why we settled for the non kinetic approach. It lasted for brief period before it failed.
“It failed because, one, they were not sincere and second, because they are not organized and don’t have common leaders whom if you negotiate with can serve as their representatives.
They have rivalry and different groups. It is unlike when you are fighting a group on ideology, where they have a common leader, where you negotiate with him and he leads them. It is not that way. Bandits have different groups. How many will you deal with? Dealing with some groups and leaving out others will even create problems. And different groups are emerging daily.
“And also these people are thieves and criminals, if you negotiate with them what will you give them? Will you be giving them salary or what? Then people who are used to getting huge sums of money, especially with this kidnapping activities. So there is nothing legitimate that they can do to get something close to what they are getting through the kidnapping activities.
So it is impossible for this people to willingly accept to leave what they are doing for anything that you promise them. Because you cannot promise them what is close to what they are getting. In 2017 to 2019, we tried it and realized money we gave them was used to buy more arms. President Tinubu and his news NSA, Ribadu should not make the mistake of negotiating with them.
“So, honestly I don’t in any way advice the present leadership of President Tinubu to even contemplate on this issue. What is needed is for all the security agencies to organize a sustained onslaught on these people. If they have to organize, the ground and air operations, it is a matter of few months, they are going to deal with these people. One, they are all locals, 99.9 percent of people involved in these are local fulani here. Their parents are known.
“Two, they are not that trained as people may think. And moreover, the area is an area that is accessible. It is not a difficult terrain. We have locals who could penetrate, provide x-ray, intelligence required. But it has to be well coordinated in such a way that it is done simultaneously from all the states and neighbouring country like Niger Republic are ever ready as they have been collaborating with us.
While these things are done, the Governors of the various states too should meet and take common positions on all the issues that will facilitate and help the military operations especially decisions or measures that will undermine the strength of the bandits. For instance, ban on use of motorcycle, buying of fuel in jerrican in those areas among others. It should be a unanimous decision by the states.
“People are under siege in these areas, many of these things are not reported because people are tired of reporting them. But on daily basis, people are been kidnapped, killed, women are raped, many of them have children from the rape, and you have all sorts of trauma.
“Moreover, you cannot stop these people from this thing because it has become part of them. It has become a culture to these people. Because it has been here for a very long time. If you go into history, it is as far back as 1891, banditry was experienced in Zamfara area. Also, during colonial period. The thing is, it is just now that it is only becoming too rampant these.
“It is impossible for the people to willingly accept to do, it has to be by force.
“Moreover, you are talking about amnesty, negotiation, let it be a request from the bandits after you have put them on their knees by the strength of security operations. If they call for these, then you can consider granting it, not government calling them for negotiation. The money they are making now will not make them listen, the former SGS, Dr. Inuwa however stated.