The stance of Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, against holding dialogue with bandits and criminal herdsmen gained widespread support yesterday, as regional groups and individuals slammed the idea.
The rejection of parley with criminals came as the Senate asked Federal Government not to be involved in resolving herdsmen conflicts with communities.
A foremost Muslim cleric, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, had proposed peace deal with kidnappers terrorising the country, especially the Northwestern zone.
Gumi had led a group of Muslim clerics and law enforcement agents to bushes in the Central and Southern Senatorial districts of Kaduna State to meet with communities of Fulani herdsmen allegedly breeding the main population of kidnappers and bandits in a bid to persuade them against vices.
Gumi’s plan is to strike a deal with the herdsmen to end criminal activities and to forward their grievances to the authorities for resolution.
But El-Rufai, in an interview with BBC Hausa, argued that a Fulani herdsman that used to earn N100,000 every year through sale of cattle but now makes millions of naira from kidnapping would find it difficult to give up the heinous act.
Bandits killing people and burning houses, he added, should not be pardoned. The governor blamed lingering criminal activities on lack of cooperation among some Northwest governors in the fight against banditry
“Kaduna has been on the same page with Niger State governor in the fight with bandits. We discuss measures to fight insecurity with Niger, but some other states are doing things differently.
“Some states are saying bandits should be pardoned and there should be negotiation. They believe if we sit down and dialogue with criminals, they will discontinue their old ways and that is the difference between us. When some governors said they will negotiate with bandits and others disagree with that, that is where the problem is.”
No sooner had El-Rufai made his position known than Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) and Civil Liberty Organisations express their support for him.
The Worldwide President of IYC, Peter Igbifa, in an interview with The Guardian said the best way to fight criminality is to stop it permanently by getting the bandits arrested and prosecuted to serve as deterrent to others.
He said: “It makes no sense to grant pardon to bandits because kidnapping has become a very lucrative business, the best way to fight it is to stop it permanently; if we don’t, any other step will be encouraging the monster to grow.
“Some of these peace processes don’t help, because if you bring out the bandits, they will pretend to have repented, and then go back to the bush. Of course, they will not return the actual arms; they will just go to the bush and bring some toys while the real AK47 is still hidden there and any little money given to them for the peace deal, they will rather use it to beef up their arms.”