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It’s Not Late To Negotiate With Bandits, Give Them Promising Future — Shittu

The ex-minister said the millions of out-of-school children in Northen Nigeria is a "production factory for banditry" in the country.


Former Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, on Channels Television’s Politics Today programme on Tuesday, March 26, 2024

 

A former Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, has urged the Federal Government to explore non-kinetic approach in dealing with the menacing phenomenon of banditry in Nigeria.

Shittu, an ex-minister in the cabinet of ex-President Muhammadu Buhari, stated this on Channels Television’s Politics Today programme on Tuesday.

“If I am in position, it is not too late to use non-kinetic neasures in negotiating with bandits, giving them a promising future. Let us retain them. Many of them are very intelligent, many of them are able-bodied,” Shittu said, adding that the military spending on equipment far outweighed the non-kinetic approach.

 

 

The ex-minister said the millions of out-of-school children in Northen Nigeria is a “production factory for banditry” in the country.

Like Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, Shittu opined that the government should negotiate with bandits “for the purpose of resettling, rehabilitating and retraining them”.

FILE PHOTO: Sheikh Ahmad Gumi

‘Reformed Bandits Can Contribute To Nation-Building’

However, the ex-minister said it is important that the government solve the menacing situation “to ensure we have peace, to ensure that these people lay down their arms and ammunition and add value to their own lives and for them to also contribute to nation-building”.

He said the society had abandoned the bandits over the years, arguing that the marauders are citizens of Nigeria and they should be given a chance through training and deradicalisation.

“The more skills you are able to give to the largest number of them, the less the propensity for them to go back (to crime) if they are assured that a promising future awaits them after going through the deradicalisation processes and skills’ training.

“At the end of the day, the amount of money we are spending on the Armed Forces to confrontn these people, it looks like their number is endless because in the bush we have have thousands of groups, particularly in the North-West and North-East.

“So, instead of wasting too much money on acquiring arms and ammunition, let us rearrange, let us find a way, after every war, there must still be coming to the round table, negotiate,” Shittu said.

Shittu also said the creation of state police would empower the governors the more and silence the local governments.

 

Some of the freed Kuriga schoolchildren in Kaduna on March 25, 2024

Menacing Trend

Nigeria is facing increasing security challenges majorly terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and oil theft. The North-West and North-East geopolitical zones have recorded the highest number of insurgent and bandit attacks in the last decade, with terror gangs sprawled across forests in the zones, killing and kidnapping thousands of residents, travellers, and soft targets including women and children.

 

FILES: President Bola Tinubu. Credit: X/@Dolusegun16

 

The President Bola Tinubu government has maintained that it won’t negotiate with bandits, even as the marauders continue to make kidnapping-for-ransom an enterprise, abducting hundreds of schoolchildren and residents, with the most recent mass abduction being that of 137 schoolchildren from Kuriga in Kaduna State.

Some pupils and staff members of Apostolic Faith School in Ekiti State were also abducted on January 29, 2024, from their school bus. They were heading to Emure-Ekiti when assailants intercepted them at Eporo-Ekiti. They later regained freedom about a week later but the driver of the bus was found dead.

The abduction of the Kuriga pupils was not the first in the series of mass kidnappings of schoolchildren in the country. From Chibok to Dapchi, Kankara, Kagara, and many others in Kaduna, Katsina, and Niger states, terrorists have in the last years seized thousands of schoolchildren in mass kidnappings that attracted global outrage. While some of the students eventually regained freedom, others have been perpetually detained in the enclaves of their abductors and sexual abusers.