By Henry Umoru
ABUJA – SENATORS and members of the House of Representatives from Zamfara state on Wednesday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgency, grant Amnesty to repentant armed bandits from the North West geo- political zone of the country.
The Zamfara National Assembly Caucus who are all of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP said that offering the repentant armed bandits Amnesty like in the case of the agitators from the Niger Delta would encourage them to contribute positively to the society.
Addressing Journalists yesterday in Abuja on behalf of the Zamfara Lawmakers, Deputy Senate Minority Whip, Senator Sahabi Ya’u, PDP, Zamfara North said that it has become very imperative for the Amnesty to be granted the bandits against the backdrop that they are convinced that peace cannot be achieved in Zamfara state by force, adding that it is evidently clear that peace can also be achieved through understanding and genuine dialogue.
The Senate Deputy Minority Whip was flanked at the briefing by Senators Hassan Mohammed, PDP, Zamfara Central and Hassan Anka Lawan, PDP, Zamfara West.
The seven members of the House of Representatives from Zamfara State at the briefing were, Sani Umar Dan- Galadima, Kaura- Namoda/ Birnin Magaji; Hassan Bello Shinkafi, Shinkafi/ Zurmi; Kabiru Amadu, Gusau/ Tsafe; Ahmed Shehu, Bungudu/ Maru; Kabiru Yahaya, Anka/ Tamara Marafa; Ahmed Muhammad Bakura, Bakura/ Maradun and Abubakar Suleiman Gumi, Gummi/ Bukkuyum.
Speaking further, Senator Sahabi Ya’u said, “We appreciate our security forces who have keyed into this peace policy, we are grateful to everyone in Zamfara, who have provided support for the success of this peace initiative and also call on the federal government of Nigeria to borrow a leaf from the Zamfara peace initiatives to achieve national peace.
“It is our belief that the Federal Government should offer amnesty to those repentant bandits in the North West region, because we are convinced that these repentant bandits should be encouraged to contribute positively to society.
“This conviction comes on the heels of a similar success recorded in the Niger Delta when the late President, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua grant amnesty to repentant bandits in that region.
“Today, the story in that once troubled area is clearly not the same. The amnesty worked perfectly by turning the criminal minded into productive elements and they are usefully contributing to the society in various fields of endeavor.
“Today, the attacks on critical infrastructures including oil installations, pipeline vandalism, and adoption of expatriates in the region have drastically reduced courtesy of the Amnesty programme.
“This is a testimony that peace cannot only be achieved through the use of excessive force; it is evident that dialogue and genuine commitment of both parties is also a vital tool in tackling insecurity.”
According to him, “It is gratifying that there is an increase in oil production in the region following the takeoff of the amnesty programme in the Niger Delta region, the provision of scholarship for repentant militants as well as employment are some of the successes of the amnesty and this has returned peace to the area and Nigeria in general. We can achieve same peace in the North West region if the Federal Government extends this olive branch to repentant bandits.
“We equally call on other states in the North West region of this country to also initiate peace dialogues in their various states as a way of fighting these vices for the peace and development of the region, because history have showed that no nation, state or region can develop in the face of high insecurity.
“We must work in unionism and patriotism to clear these hurdles for a better tomorrow so that history will judge us kindly. Desmond Tutu says and I quote, “if you want peace, you don’t talk to your friends. You talk to your enemies”, so there is absolutely nothing wrong in pursuing peace through dialogues with repentant bandits who are prepared to be reintegrated into the society.
“We therefore appeal to all the Governors of the North West regardless of their political party affiliations, to confront banditry using the Governor Bello Matawalle model. We need to work for peace for the future by changing the mind sets of the bandits, creating employment opportunities for the youths and resolving the very issues that could potentially trigger crimes. We call on all hands to be on the deck.
“This is not about the personal interest of the Zamfara State Governor or anyone of us here; it is about ridding our region of this vices and making the region safer, prosperous and peaceful. This is about returning the entire region to its good old days where everybody moved freely and conducted his or her legitimate businesses without any fear of being taken into one forest or killed or raped.
“What we experience today does not represent who we are and we must come together to move away from it. It is disheartening and we must work assiduously to right these sets of wrongs and ills in our society.
“So much is expected of our leaders and we must all rise to the occasion. We must make decisions that would serve the general interest of Nigeria and the time is now.
“The Zamfara State Governor has provided a workable model and it is Our conviction that, if replicated in all the states of the North West and Nigeria in general, we will all be better and stronger tomorrow.”