KATSINA State’s Governor Aminu Masari has called off all negotiations with bandits operating within his domain pointing out that they have reneged on all previous agreements to lay down their arms and cease violence.
Over recent years, Katsina State has been plagued with violence as bandits have engaged in all sorts of violence including armed robbery, kidnapping and cattle rustling. In search of a solution to the crisis, Governor Masari entered into negotiations with the bandits un which he offered them an amnesty in return for them laying down their arms.
Over recent weeks, however, the bandits have been as active as ever, carrying out murderous attacks across Katsina State to the chagrin of the governor. Yesterday alone, they killed nine people and injured dozens in a mindless attack in the state.
Governor Masari recalled that the bandits had signed a peace agreement with the state government where they pledged to repent and stop banditry but that they flouted it.
He noted that some of the bandits were from Zamfara and Kaduna states as well as Niger Republic.
According to Governor Masari, his was the first administration to sign an agreement with the bandits in 2016, adding that the gunmen initially honoured the agreement but later repudiated it. He stated that his initiated an amnesty programme for bandits, which was initially successful until some of the bandits reneged on the agreement and went back to kidnapping, cattle rustling and other forms of banditry.
Governor Masari said: “We choose to sign the peace agreement with the bandits so as to avoid loss of lives and property but it didn’t yield a positive result. This time around we will hand it over to security personnel.
“In our effort to honour the agreement between us, we cancelled all vigilantes and volunteer groups and we allowed them to continue with their normal activities in the state. We went through with the amnesty programme because we wanted peace to reign in the state and we did all that within our limited resources to see the initiative succeeded but peace has continued to elude the state.”
He explained that some of the recalcitrant bandits started carrying out attacks, including animal rustling and kidnapping. According to the governor, with the government’s new decision, only security operatives could now grant amnesty to the bandits.
Governor Masari said the amnesty programme led to the ban on local volunteer vigilante groups, or Yansakai, across the state and measures were taken to ensure that the bandits moved freely with their animals, as well as go to local markets without being harassed.
He said it was due to the lingering security challenge in the state that led the government to ask for the federal government’s assistance, which led to the recent major military operation to combat the bandits. According to the governor, the policing of the state will now be handed over to the Nigerian military.