By Uzair Adam Imam
Northern leaders and stakeholders in the north have warned the Federal Government and Zamfara state government to stop playing politics with the lives of the people of the region concerning the alleged Federal Government’s secret negotiation with bandits.
They expressed outrage that the Federal Government could be negotiating with bandits, which never worked in the past, and cautioned the government against such a move.
They argued that by engaging in talks with bandits, the government was indirectly legitimising their criminal activities and creating a dangerous cycle of appeasement.
They added that the move was sending a troubling message that crime and violence can be rewarded rather than punished.
Recall that Governor Dauda Lawal of Zamfara has blamed the Federal Government for allegedly negotiating with bandits secretly without involving the state government.
He also accused the Federal Government of sabotaging the ongoing fight against banditry in the state by negotiating with bandits behind the state government.
His spokesman, Sulaiman Idris, in a statement he issued to journalists, said the governor said a delegation allegedly sent by some agencies of the Federal Government had been holding talks with bandit groups in Zamfara without the consent of the State Government.
The governor said, “We have facts and evidence on what had transpired between these agents of the Federal Government and the bandits during the negotiations in several places across Zamfara.”
Responding, the Minister of Information, in a statement by his spokesperson, Suleiman Haruna, on Tuesday night, however, denied negotiating with bandits. Also in the statement, the minister accused Governor Dauda Lawan of politicising security matters.
In his reaction, one of the stakeholders and the spokesman of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Professor Tukur Muhammad-Baba argued that these negotiations are weakening the rule of law and establishing a dangerous precedent for other criminal elements in the country.
Muhammad-Baba expressed fear that this approach might inspire other groups to take up arms and engage in similar acts.
Describing the move as ‘weak,’ he urged the Federal Government to reconsider its stance on negotiating with bandits.
He said, “How will you begin a negotiation in Zamfara state without involving the Zamfara state government? You and I know this is a serious aberration and should not be taken lightly.
There is no way you can come into my house without my knowledge, even if we are of the same father, and start doing this kind of thing is not good.
Expressing his disappointment, the Executive Director, Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education (CHRICED), Dr. Ibrahim Zikirullahi, called on the current administration, led by President Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to restructure the military and ensure it regains its lost glory.
According to him, “That singular act is a complete failure of the governance system in Nigeria because what it presents is that our security is no longer having the capability to deal with the insurgency and they are no longer trusted to do their work.
“And it’s almost like Nigeria is going into the abyss.”