THE Federal Government through the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed yesterday said it was unfair to criticize Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State, for granting amnesty to bandits terrorizing the state.
According to the minister, the Federal Government would not stop any governor from addressing the security challenges in ways peculiar to his state.
Zamfara State governor had granted amnesty to Auwalun Daudawa, a notorious bandit who led his gang to abduct over 300 schoolboys from Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, in December last year.
The amnesty programme which involves de-radicalisation of criminals and their reintegration into the society has been embraced by the Federal Government and some state governments.
For instance, the Federal Government granted amnesty to 600 repentant Boko Haram terrorists last year, a development that attracted nationwide outrage with civil society organisations censuring the government for pampering ruthless and bloodthirsty marauders who were supposed to be punished after committing unprintable crimes in Nigeria’s North-East states, especially in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.
Recall that Governor, Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State, also faulted the proposition of renowned Islamic scholar, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, who after meeting with some bandits in Zamfara, asked the government to grant them amnesty like was done for militants in the Niger Delta region.
However, Mohammed who spoke on AIT’s ‘Kakaaki’, said the nature of the problem differs from state to state and the governors as chief security officers of their states were in the best position to deploy the best solutions to tackle the issues.
He insisted that there was nothing wrong with granting amnesty to criminals if the purpose was to restore desired peace in affected areas.
Mohammed said: “When you are fighting insurgency, you use both kinetic and non-kinetic means). Granting amnesty to notorious drug barons, militants is not a new thing, it is not unique to Nigeria.
“You need to be in the shoes of the Zamfara State government or governor to appreciate what the issues at stake are (and) why he has done that. Don’t also forget that the state governors are their own chief security officers. When you are dealing with insurgency, kidnapping, banditry, you are interested in the bigger picture; how do we restore peace? If granting amnesty to one notorious kidnapper is going to give me peace in my state, I might take that decision. If granting amnesty to one repentant warlord would help me capture a thousand bandits, I might take that decision.”
Don’t just look at what is in the public place, understand the very high complexity of managing insurgency and banditry.