PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has given all armed bandits operating within Nigeria a 60-day ultimatum to surrender their weapons and vacate the numerous forests they occupy or face the full wrath of the law.
Nigeria is currently going through an insecurity crisis as terrorism, kidnapping, armed robbery and banditry plague the nation, with hoodlums running riot across the country. Among the most violent groups operating in the country are Boko Haram, Fulani cattle herdsmen and bandits who have recently taken to kidnapping school pupils for ransom.
Embarrassed by how ineffective all this has made his government, last week, President Buhari ordered the security forces to shoot on sight anyone found to be in possession of an AK47 assault rifle. Yesterday, Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State made a state-wide broadcast in which he said that in addition to this ultimatum, President Buhari has deployed 6,000 troops to the state to crush the bandits if they fail to surrender.
Governor Matawalle said: “In my discussions with President Muhammadu Buhari and the security high commands in Abuja, it was resolved that 6,000 additional troops will be deployed to complement the effort of other security forces in tackling the security challenges in the state. The troops will soon arrive in the state for their operations and we are grateful to the federal government.
“The president has agreed to a time frame within which the recalcitrant bandits should surrender their weapons and key into our peace initiative. The peace deal initiated by my administration has recorded successes including the disarmament, securing the release of hundreds of kidnapped persons, reopening of markets and the resumption of other economic activities across the state.
“Even though we are enjoying relative peace as a result of this dialogue and reconciliation programme, some armed bandits refused to key into the programme and they sustain their attacks on our communities. The government has equally observed that there is sabotage by some unscrupulous elements within and outside the state.”
However, the message has received a mixed reaction from Nigerians who ask why the bandits are not being asked to surrender immediately. Cyril Afama, a Lagos resident said he believes President Buhari, by his ultimatum, has only shown his compromising attitude towards the bandits and other criminals of Fulani extraction.
In what appears to be a sarcastic response, a cross section of respondents are of the view that with the president’s ultimatum, the bandits have a window of two months to continue with their murderous activities. Kenneth Williams, a security expert, added that with the ultimatum, Nigeria may witness heightened attacks and abductions in Zamfara over the next two months.
He added: “For me, the president has only given the bandits in Zamfara forests a window of opportunity to continue to kill, maim, abduct and destroy people’s property. Why the ultimatum? Do you need the two months to plan your own strategies or are the troops you have deployed going to be imported from Mars?”