SWITZERLAND, JULY 30 – The Zamfara State Government on Monday said it would employ repentant bandits in the state and give them money to set up business to end banditry and its resultant killings and abductions in the state.
The state government has also agreed to disband its 8,500 civilian Joint Task Force recruited by the former governor, Alhaji Abdul Aziz Yari, as demanded by the bandits during a peace deal between the government and the repentant hoodlums.
The Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Security, Alhaji Abubakar Dauran, said the government decided to employ the repentant bandits and empower some of their illiterate members because they had embraced peace. He said most of the bandits were Fulani.
Bandits have consistently attacked Zamfara towns and villages in the last five years. Yari had during a town hall meeting in Gusau, the state capital, in April said bandits had killed 3,526 persons in the state in the last five years. He had also said, “Over 13,000 hectares of farmlands were either destroyed or made useless as farmers can no longer use the lands for farming. Nearly 500 villages have also been devastated and 8,219 persons were injured, some are still in critical conditions.” But since the assumption of Governor Bello Matawalle in office, the bandits had been surrendering their arms and releasing their captives after the government engaged the hoodlums in a dialogue.
On Sunday, Matawalle in Abuja, said the bandits had freed 300 people they kidnapped. When asked if there was any agreement between the bandits and the state government, Dauran, in an interview with The PUNCH, said the bandits agreed to surrender their arms. He said, “The state government has plans to recruit those of them with relevant academic qualifications into the civil service, while others who have not gone to school will be assisted in their cattle breeding business.
“The Fulani have fully embraced the peace initiative and are now moving freely in the markets and other places that were hitherto no-go areas for them.”
According to him, the state government is going to give the bandits, who are Fulani, “some money to set up business and will also provide them with some feeds for their animals.”
Dauran added, “There was a concrete arrangement between the bandits and the state government. They (bandits) agreed to surrender and release their captives if the state government could also release their people arrested by the security agents.”
He added that the bandits asked the state government to allow their people in hideouts to come out and move freely in the state without being attacked or harassed by the volunteer groups otherwise known as “Yansakai.”