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FG ready to dialogue with bandits in North and settle them — Minister

The Federal Government is willing to listen to repentant bandits and settle them without cost in a bid to find a lasting solution to the security threats in the north-west and north-central regions of the country.

Minister of Police Affairs, Muhammad Dingyadi, stated this on Tuesday in an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today.

“With all pleasure, anybody willing to surrender and do it honourably and honestly; the government is ready to listen. The government is ready to see what they can do to settle them down without much cost,” he said.

Dingyadi explained that the present administration intended to reintegrate repentant bandits into the larger society, saying the government would closely monitor those who have turned a new leaf to ensure they do not return to their old way of life.

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He also spoke about the ongoing military operations against bandits in Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto and other states where their activities have been alarming.

‘When You Surrender’

According to the minister, President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration will continue to record successes against bandits as long as the security agencies continue to work in synergy.

On whether the window of amnesty was still open for bandits willing to surrender, he said, “When you talk of amnesty, it is a relative term and what the Federal Government is trying to say is that: ‘Let us see those who have surrendered their arms, let us listen to them, let us chronicle them, let us receive them’; we cannot just throw these people away because they are all Nigerians.

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“Of course, they are criminals, they have committed atrocities, they have committed crimes, but according to the international laws, when you surrender from a war zone, you are not killed, you are not maimed, you are allowed to have your say.

“We are listening to them to see how we can integrate them into the larger society. What we are trying to do is to get them settled in their various communities, to let them have a kind of means of livelihood so that they can integrate peacefully and honourably into the society.”

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Despite assurances by the government and security forces to end the menace of banditry, the criminal elements often attack in large numbers and arrive on motorbikes.

The armed forces have carried out operations and airstrikes on their camps, which are hidden deep in the forests that span Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina and Niger States, but violence has escalated.

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