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Crime

Nigerian Government Insists It Won’t Dialogue With Bandits

Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, has said that the Federal Government will not be involved in any dialogue with bandits.
According to him, due to the complexity of the issue, the state governments should be allowed to decide on whether they would go into agreement with bandits or not.
He said: “Dealing with bandits is a very complex issue. Remember that many of the governors agreed at the beginning to interact with the bandits but they went back and became more vicious. Sometimes, they will agree that if they are given an amount of money, they will stop, but when they are given, they will use it to buy arms and ammunition.

“I think we should leave it to individual state governments to decide on whether they are going to enter into any agreement with bandits or not. The federal government cannot decree by fiat. Unknown to many people, there are lots of things going on behind the scenes where bandits are surrendering.

“If you look at Boko Haram, I think about 3,000 adherents have surrendered in Borno State. Some we make public, but especially their leaders, we don’t make public, because if you make that public it will lead to mutiny within the leadership of the terrorists or bandits. We are doing everything to bring these things under control.”

He said the designation of bandits as terrorists has aided the fight against insecurity, adding that it had made possible, the use of excessive force, which hitherto was not an option.

“When I was drawn in this controversy, I said whether it is a terrorist or bandit, you do not spare any of them. But I think when you now term them, terrorists, it gives the military and the security authorities more latitude on how to deal with them. It’s just like when students are protesting, you have to handle it with a kind of care and not use live ammunition and things like that.”

“If they remain bandits, there’ll be a lot of restraint on the part of the police and the military, but when they become terrorists, then, there’ll be less restraint. I think that has helped a lot. Even some of the platforms the Air Force has acquired before cannot be used against ordinary bandits, but now that they’ve been declared terrorists, they can use it against them. That is why you can see improvements in the fight against bandits.”

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