By Chris Udochukwu
Abuja (Precise Post) – Another seven notorious bandits on Friday repented and surrendered their weapons to the Zamfara State Government.
The repentant bandits also took an oath to stop banditry and embrace the peace accord instituted by State Governor Bello Matawalle to end the decade-old banditry in the state.
They were received at the Government House in Gusau, the state capital, in the presence of some traditional, rulers and Islamic clerics who took turns to counsel them as their weapons were handed over to the State Police Command, Channels TV reported via it’s twitter handle.
They surrendered 14 weapons including AK 47 rifles.
The bandits who swore by the Holy Qur’an indicated their willingness to stop banditry and embrace peace for the rest of their lives.
The State Commissioner for Security and Home Affairs, Abubakar Dauran who presented the bandits to Governor Matawalle said they willingly took the decision to accept the peace offered by the Governor and will accept to be re-integrated into the society.
The governor accepted their resolve as they took the oath with the Holy Quran not to either go back to their past ways or become informants for their former colleagues who are yet to key into the peace process.
Governor Matawalle also promised to continue with the peace process in the state employing the carrot and stick approach towards a successful end to the menace in the state.
Zamfara State Commissioner for Security and Home Affairs, Abubakar Dauran while briefing journalists said over 1,000 kidnapped victims have been rescued and over 148 weapons with 1,418 live ammunitions surrendered by bandits since the inception of peace dialogue with bandits.
As part of efforts to fight banditry, Governor Matawalle’s administration has made it a policy to extend an olive branch to bandits who are willing to give up a life of crime.
The policy has been noted to have significantly reduced the frequency of banditry and bloody attacks in the state.
Other state governments in the northern region troubled by bandit activities have employed a similar approach with varying success.
Recalls that Sahara Reporters recently reported that 15 brand new Hilux vehicles were given to leaders of different repentant bandits in Zamfara State by Governor Bello Muhammad Matawalle.
It also said that the governor also approved millions of naira to be given to the ‘repentant’ bandits as compensation.
But despite the accord, communities in the state are still being attacked and residents kidnapped and/or killed.
A top military officer told SaharaReporters that the bandits now carry out attacks with some of the vehicles given to them by Matawalle.
The officer said, “Those bandits have different group, so if they say they repent, the governor will give them a Hilux vehicle but unfortunately they are now using the vehicles to carry out attacks
However, reacting to the report by Sahara Reporters, the Zamfara governor denied giving Hilux vans, money to bandits.
Zamfara, Niger, Kaduna, Katsina and Sokoto States have seen more frequent attacks from bandits in recent years, despite heightened security measure in the states.
The Zamfara State Government has denied ever giving cash gifts and Toyota Hilux vehicles to repentant bandits who turned themselves in.
The state government made the rebuttal in a statement by Zailani Bappa, the spokesperson to Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara.
But in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday evening, Mr Bappa said the claim by Sahara Reporters was false.
The Zamfara official said, “The attention of Zamfara State Government has been drawn to a jaundiced crap called a story by Sahara Reporters where the medium alleged that His Excellency Governor Bello Mohammed (Matawallen Maradun) has given 15 Hilux vans and ‘millions of naira’ to repentant bandits who in turn, are now using the same vehicles to attack innocent communities in the state.
Shortly after the denial by the Zamfara State governor, Sahara Reporters on 21st January 2021 in an exclusive published alleged identities of “repentant bandits given Hilux vehicle by Zamfara Governor, Matawalle.
The report said: “It’s so sad, he called it a peace and reconciliation programme, but all you need to be rich now in Zamfara is to take up arms against the people.”
“Identities of some leaders of ‘repentant’ bandits in Zamfara State given Toyota Hilux vehicles and cash gifts by Governor Bello Muhammad Matawalle have been revealed.
“SaharaReporters on Wednesday night obtained the names of some of them. The list includes Na Shama, Sani Shaidan, Mohammadu Bello Halilu and Bage Waye.
Other beneficiaries are identified as Kachalla, Ado, Busniya, Dunbulu and Gajere.