Middle-Belt and Northern leaders have rejected a call by a former governor of Zamfara State, Yerima Sani, asking President Bola Tinubu to negotiate with terrorists and bandits in the country.
In their separate views, they argued that such negotiations will continue to fail because the bandits do not have a central command of leadership and they never kept the agreements reached with some of them in the past by some states and communities in the north.
Speaking with Vanguard, President General of Mzough U Tiv, MUT, worldwide and Chairman of the three sociocultural/ethnic groups in Benue State, Chief Iorbee Ihagh said: “There is no way President Bola Tinubu’s government will negotiate with bandits and terrorists. These were people who were brought into this country from parts of West Africa to prosecute elections for some persons in 2015. After they won their elections they failed to keep to the agreement they entered with the criminals and that is why they took to banditry and terrorism and tormenting the North. Those who brought them into the country know themselves. They should be made to go and clean up the mess they created for Nigerians.
“I am happy that President Tinubu has brought in people who can tackle insecurity in the country unlike what we had in the last government when nepotism beclouded them. They had wanted to turn Nigeria into a Fulani state but God came to our rescue as a people. So, there will be no bargaining, President Tinubu should never accept that. He has started well and we are praising him, but if he does that, nobody will be behind him again. Government cannot go and beg criminals, they should come and surrender. More so, armed herdsmen should be made to go back to their respective places so that the millions of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, scattered in our state and other parts can go back to their ancestral homes.”
On his part the State Vice Chairman of APC Benue South District, Bishop Pinot Ogbaji said: “When I heard of the proposal of the former governor of Zamfara state advising President Tinubu to negotiate with terrorists and bandits, I was shocked.
I know that in everything there is negotiation and dialogue but negotiation means that we encourage that attitude and character.
Then when you negotiate with a deadly group in the North another group would probably surface in another part of the country seeking negotiation.
Let me ask, what manner and kind of negotiation is he talking about? Is it to grant them amnesty or what? Or true repentance. We don’t even know the extent to which the negotiation will go, we do not know their demands. For me, negotiation is not an issue at all.
Of course there could be amnesty which is not negotiation. It entails that somebody volunteers to repent, then he is brought back to the the society of normal beings and re-orientated”.
Also the National President of the Middle Belt Forum, Dr. Bitrus Pogu said: “Unless he is one of them and he is trying to protect them, otherwise who negotiates with terrorists. The problem we’ve had is a northern problem.
People from the North took this Boko Haram and banditry as their own game. We have somebody there, though his election is still in dispute, but it appears that this person will not tolerate a situation where people will be serving some parochial interests rather than the Nigerian nation. And that is what I believe Tinubu is trying to achieve.
To negotiate with terrorists means to endorse criminality and encourage non state actors to have the courage to come up and start something again in the future. The way forward is to crush them, to take them out of existence.
“So, deal with them in such a way that henceforth somebody who will want to rise for whatever reason will think twice before he does something.
It should even go beyond that, those who are involved in propagating this thing should be fished out and dealt with decisively because Nigerians have suffered enough and any call by such characters should be questioned and queried.
And if you remember it is the same Yerima who started the Sharia thing under the then President Obasanjo. To me he is a suspect any suggestion from him should not be taken seriously.”
Chairman, Birnin-Gwari Emirate Progressives Union (BEPU) Ishaq Usman Kasai, in his view explained that Yerima’s call reflected the lack of understanding of the structural formation and divergent goals of the armed bandits in their forests who have been causing mass destruction, deaths, and destabilization in the country.
He argued that, “to successfully bring an end to armed banditry business in Nigeria, all bandits’ camps in our various forests must be dislodged as anything short of this will only be a window-dressing that will not bring lasting solution.
Engaging in negotiations with armed bandits will never yield significant positive outcomes because past experiences have demonstrated that criminal elements such as armed bandits, often exploit negotiations as a means to buy time, regroup, and strengthen their positions.