A top-ranking leader of bandits in Zamfara, middle-aged Mohammed Bello, has assured people of the state of a sustained peace following a renewed reconciliation initiative by Gov. Bello Mohammed.
The retired bandit’s gang leader gave the assurance while speaking to newsmen at the state Police Command in Gusau on Wednesday.
“I want to express our profound gratitude to the state governor, Alhaji Bello Matawalle, for initiating the peace and reconciliation programme which has reunited us with our families and friends and to assure the people of the state that peace has come to stay.
“We are currently engaged in different meetings with various gang leaders to ensure the sustenance of the peace that has been achieved and we are getting very positive responses.
“We are determined to see that no one reverses this effort because any attempt to take us back into banditry will be highly resisted and we will fight and deal decisively with anyone who tries that,” he said.
The state Commissioner of Police, Mr Usman Nagogo, who is leading the peace and reconciliation team, had earlier told newsmen that in the last six months over 500 firearms were willingly surrendered by the repentant bandits while over 500 kidnap victims were unconditionally released by their abductors.
Nagogo, who however noted that disarmament was slow and gradual, expressed confidence that firearms illegally possessed would be recovered in the state.
“People should understand that these bandit gangs operate independent of one another under suspicion and rivalry, so disarming them will have to be with high-level intelligence and diplomacy which will certainly take some time but am sure we will get there,” he said.
He said one repentant bandit alone recently surrendered eight guns following his acceptance of the peace and reconciliation programme.