Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State has maintained that there would no longer be a dialogue between armed bandits and the state government but that those who are ready to genuinely repent would be rehabilitated and reintegrated into the society.
The governor disclosed this when he met with members of the Vigilante Group of Nigeria (VGN) at Kasuwan Garba in Mariga Local Government Area to boost their morale.
“I am here to thank the vigilantes, boost their morale and to offer more support from the state government so that they can continue to support the police and other security agencies in the fight against bandits and other criminal tendencies,” he said.
He said any bandit that surrenders his weapons and repents from his heinous way of living would be forgiven, and provided with a means of livelihood which would not necessarily include any cash backing.
Governor Bello stated that from experience it has been discovered that the repentant bandits, after collecting cash from the dialogue option, purchase more weapons and return to their old ways of banditry.
To further boost the vigilante’s morale, the governor added that compensation for the families of those that died was ongoing and would remain a continuous exercise.
He commended the vigilantes for their efforts in complementing other security outfits in the fight against bandits urging them not to relent.
To improve their onslaught against banditry, the governor assured them that automatic Pump Action Guns and other sophisticated weapons will be provided for the vigilantes.
He said no threat would make him disband the vigilante in the state as it has come to stay.
“We are not going to disband vigilante because, even when banditry stops, the vigilante will remain to form a kind of security within the community,” he said.
Commissioner for Local Government, Chieftaincy Affairs and Community Development, Barr. Abdulmalik Sarkin Daji said the vigilantes have been working in synergy with security agencies.
Barr Daji added that vigilantes have been able to secure again about 20 villages that were ousted by bandits, adding that all villagers have returned to their ancestral homes.
He appreciated the Commissioner of Police, Niger State Command, Mr. Adamu Usman, for providing more officers and men to the troubled Local Government Areas of the state which were hitherto in the hands of bandits.
The commissioner, however, called for more hands to be on deck against the bandits to end their ungodly act.
Chairman Mariga local government, Alhaji Idris Ibrahim, while appreciating the efforts and support of the governor in the renewed fight against banditry said the government has recruited 50 vigilantes each from the four districts in the local government and were working in conjunction with members of the community policing committee.
He thereby appealed to the governor to provide more motorcycles and vehicles to the vigilante in the local government.
The Chairman of VGN in Mariga Local Government Area, Hashimu Abdullahi Kontokoro, indicated their willingness to do more by pointing out that they were ready to take the battle to the hideouts of the bandits, adding that they were totally against dialogue with bandits but support amnesty for those who lay down their arms.