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Northerners Sharply Divided Over Granting Amnesty To Bandits



In the North-West, some residents have backed amnesty for bandits.

They believe that it will curb the spate of insecurity. However, others described the government’s amnesty to bandits as robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Some respondents believed granting amnesty was advantageous as it would give bandits willing to repent genuinely “a ‘soft-landing” option and would provide more information for the security agencies.

An air force officer who spoke anonymously said there was no harm in pardoning bandits or terrorists, provided they had been properly disarmed and rehabilitated to enable them to engage in skills or jobs that would never make them return to their former atrocities.

He, however, stressed that the pardoned terrorists or bandits’ psyches needed to be examined and treated psychologically.

Alhassan Aliyu, a lawyer, stated that pardoning bandits and terrorists had both positive and negative effects, noting that some may sincerely repent while others may not.

He said pardoning genuinely repentant bandits would help reduce banditry and terrorism but added that the negative effects were that more youth might key into banditry and terrorism because no one had been punished.

The village head of Kungurki in Zamfara, Garba Yusuf, said his people were reaping the fruit of amnesty granted to bandits.

Mr Yusuf said before now, some communities were under frequent attacks, but with reconciliation with Bello Turji, leader of a terrorist group, the entire Zamfara North senatorial district started enjoying relative peace.

Also, the district head of Gurbin Bore, Muhammad Barau, said if pardoning the bandits could help, it had become necessary as all measures adopted by security operatives had not restored peace to Zamfara.

A Federal College of Education psychologist, Gidan Madi, Sama’ila Muhammad, said amnesty might motivate other terrorists to surrender and lay down their aims.

“This is a move that will reduce the rate of insecurity in the nation and will go a long way in removing anxiety from the people’s minds,” he said.

However, some rejected the idea of granting amnesty to bandits and terrorists, saying such action was akin to “robbing Peter to favour Paul.”

In Sokoto, Abdullahi El-Kurebe, a resident, said there was no justification for pardoning bandits and terrorists, adding that “pardoning such people is like giving licence to others to do the same.”

In Kano, Sani Malumfashi of the Department of Sociology, Bayero University, Kano, cautioned governments against pardoning bandits and terrorists, saying such a move would only increase criminal acts in the country.

In his contribution, a lawyer in Kano, Abdulrazak Ahmad, called on the government to punish the criminals and publish the names of their sponsors, warning that failure would hurt society and encourage criminal acts.

Another lawyer, Moses Edema, said pardoning bandits and terrorists is unthinkable and did not appeal to the common sense of justice and fairness.

In Kaduna, Musa Dona, a secondary school teacher, said pardoning terrorists, be they bandits or those who committed a felony, amounted to grave injustice to victims of the nefarious act.

A sociologist, Zailani Musa, said some of the consequences of pardoning bandits were that most of the perpetrators are energetic youths who might apply other tactics in the crime.

Mr Musa added that pardoning terrorists would make people think that they could get away with crime and, therefore, would not hesitate to unleash terror on innocent people.

In Katsina, a pressure group, Coalition of Northern Groups, said granting amnesty to bandits was counter-productive and did not yield any dividend in the past.

The CNG president, Jamilu Charanchi, cited an example of such an effort by Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina in the past, adding that the situation worsened after that.

“The dialogue did not yield any result. These bandits still terrorise and kill our people, rape our women, leaving so many people as orphans,” he said.

An analyst, Abba Abubakar, said pardoning bandits was the wrong step in tackling insecurity, emphasising that there was a need for Mr Buhari’s regime to disclose the names of sponsors of bandits and terrorists.

Musa Yusha’u, a resident of Birnin Kebbi, said no citizen would subscribe to the idea of pardoning terrorists after destroying lives and property.

“I swear to God, should I see any one of them moving freely in our environment, I will take the law into my hands for justice and vengeance,” he fumed.


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