A day after they alleged that security operatives were fueling kidnapping in exchange for monetary gains, some bandits in Katsina State on Thursday offered to swap kidnapped victims with their arrested members.
Fourteen different groups of bandits, operating in Faskari and Kankara local government areas of the state, promised to release the kidnapped victims in exchange for their members who were arrested by security operatives’ in some parts of the council.
They made the offer to Governor Aminu Bello Masari on the second day of their dialogue with the governor and other critical stakeholders at Angwa Tsamia Primary School, Birni Gogo, Faskari Local Government Area.
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The leader of one of the gangs, Alhaji Mansuni, who spoke for others, said the bandits were pleased with the governor’s presence and his drive to ensure peaceful coexistence in the state and in the country.
He pledged the bandits’ readiness to reciprocate Masari’s gesture of freeing their kinsmen and fellow bandits from the custody of the security operatives by releasing about 1,000 victims in his custody.
Mansuni, who promised to prevail on other groups to release their captives, also told the governor that the fear of insecurity, deprivations, and indiscriminate arrest and killings of herdsmen by the security agencies led them to armed banditry.
He said: “We are happy by your coming to visit us right in our hideouts. We Fulani have challenges which government should look into, including construction of roads, education, infrastructure and social living conditions.
“Again, indiscriminate arrest by security agencies and extortion by members of SARS, as well the attitude of the Hausa in the rural communities who refused to coexist with the Fulani, requires we all sit down and iron out our differences.”
The Chief Imam of the Fulani, Alhaji Liman Majuna, assured the governor that the bandits were willing to surrender and embrace the amnesty offer of the government.
He said: “We have forgiven and forgotten what happened five years ago; we will confront whoever that does not want peace.”
Masari told the bandits the importance of abandoning the bush and killing of their brothers. He urged them to embrace peace and amnesty.
The governor said: “If you gather all the cattle, get all the money in this world and shed innocent blood, there is no benefit.
“You can never defeat the government. If you kill 10 soldiers, the government will bring 100 more and also bring thousands of guns. We will look into your requests, build roads and schools and ensure better quality of lives.”