Miffed by the renewed attacks, kidnapping and cattle rustling by bandits in Katsina State, Governor Aminu Masari has vowed that he would no longer negotiate with them following their failure to honour previous agreements he had with them.
The governor expressed his frustration with the bandits just as their counterparts, ravaged Kaduna communities, killing nine persons and injuring many others yesterday.
Masari recalled that the bandits had signed a peace agreement with the state government where they pledged to repent and stop banditry, but that they flouted it.
Speaking to BBC Hausa in a live Instagram interview, the governor said: “They could not honour the agreement; they betrayed us.”
He noted that some of the bandits were from Zamfara and Kaduna states as well as Niger Republic.
He said he was the first governor to sign an agreement with the bandits in 2016, adding that the gunmen initially honoured the agreement but later repudiated it.
The governor said: “We choose to sign the peace agreement with the bandits so as to avoid loss of lives and property, but it didn’t yield a positive result. This time around we will hand it over to security personnel.
“In our effort to honour the agreement between us, we cancelled all vigilantes and volunteer groups and we allowed them (bandits) to continue with their normal activities in the state.”
He stated that his government in 2016 initiated an amnesty programme for bandits, adding that the programme was initially successful until some of the bandits reneged on the agreement and went back to kidnapping, cattle rustling and other forms of banditry.
The governor explained that some of the recalcitrant bandits started carrying out attacks, including animal rustling and kidnapping.
He said with the government’s new decision, only security operatives could now grant amnesty to the bandits.
“We went through with the amnesty programme because we wanted peace to reign in the state and we did all that within our limited resources to see the initiative succeeded, but peace has continued to elude the state,” he added.
Masari said the amnesty programme led to the ban on local volunteer vigilante group, or Yansakai, across the state and measures were taken to ensure that the bandits moved freely with their animals, as well as go to local markets without being harassed.
He said it was due to the lingering security challenge in the state that led the government to ask for the federal government’s assistance, which led to the recent major military operation to combat the bandits.
According to him, the military operation, which includes Nigeria Air Force (NAF) personnel, has at least five fighter jets that operate between Katsina, Zamfara and Sokoto states.
He noted that the operation had recorded some successes, but it lacks equipment.
Masari called for adequate provision of equipment for the success of the military operation in the state.