Northern Leaders Reject Negotiating with Bandits, Warn Tinubu
Prominent Northern leaders have vehemently opposed a suggestion made by former Zamfara State Governor, Malam Yerima Sani, urging President Bola Tinubu to negotiate with terrorists and bandits, similar to the amnesty granted to Niger Delta militants during Umaru Yar’Adua’s presidency. These leaders argue that negotiating with bandits is futile due to the lack of centralized leadership among them and their history of disregarding past agreements. They advocate for a more forceful approach to crush the bandits and eliminate their existence, rather than endorsing criminality through negotiations.
Chief Iorbee Ihagh, the President General of Mzough U Tiv and Chairman of three sociocultural/ethnic groups in Benue state, emphasizes that President Tinubu’s government should not engage in negotiations with bandits and terrorists. He points out that these criminals were initially brought into the country for election purposes but reneged on their agreements, leading to their involvement in banditry and terrorism. He insists that those responsible for bringing them in should be held accountable.
Bishop Pinot Ogbaji, the State Vice Chairman of the APC Benue South District, expresses shock at the proposal, questioning the nature and purpose of the negotiation. He believes that negotiation should not be pursued, as it could be exploited by other groups seeking similar treatment. Instead, he suggests considering amnesty, which involves repentance and reintegration into society.
Dr. Bitrus Pogu, the National President of the Middle Belt Forum, strongly opposes negotiations with terrorists, asserting that it would endorse criminality and encourage future acts of violence. He advocates for crushing the bandits and eliminating them completely, sending a clear message to deter any individuals or groups from following a similar path. Pogu highlights the suspicious nature of Yerima’s suggestion, recalling his previous involvement in promoting Sharia law. He urges caution in considering such proposals from individuals with questionable motives.
Ishaq Usman Kasai, Chairman of the Birnin-Gwari Emirate Progressives Union, emphasizes that Yerima’s call demonstrates a lack of understanding about the diverse goals and decentralized structure of armed bandits. He asserts that dislodging all bandit camps in forests is crucial to ending their activities and that negotiations would only provide a temporary solution. Kasai cites past failed negotiations with bandits, where they exploited the opportunity to receive more funds, acquire arms, and commit further crimes.
Dr. Mikailu Barau, a northern leader and academic from Zamfara State, criticizes Yerima for his contribution to the escalation of the crisis during his tenure as governor. While acknowledging that force alone has not yielded desired results, Barau emphasizes the need for sincere leadership and monitoring of agreements to ensure the bandits uphold their end. He argues that conflicts cannot be resolved through the use of weapons alone and advocates for negotiation at some point, provided there is genuine commitment and adherence to agreements.
The consensus among these Northern leaders is that negotiating with bandits would be counterproductive and send a dangerous message of weakness and incapacity on the part of the government. They believe that a more assertive approach is necessary to address the banditry crisis effectively.[logo-slider]