Bandits have told residents of Dunkawa village in Sabon Birni Local Government Area of Sokoto state that they will not stop attacking communities in the area until the government grants them amnesty and pays them monthly allowances.
SaharaReporters gathered that the gunmen who stormed the village with sophisticated weapons on Thursday boasted that no one can help the residents unless their demands are met.
“They came into the village armed with sophisticated weapons shouting different slogans, they walked around unchecked, they were moving freely, and even patronised local shops.
“They told us not to panic as they were not in the community to attack or kill anybody but to send us to the government. They said nobody, not even the President, Muhammadu Buhari can help us until the government grants them amnesty and agrees to pay them monthly allowances.
“They have been attacking our community, they were here last week and killed some villagers. We have recorded more than five attacks this month alone,” a resident of Dunkawa told SaharaReporters.
Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi had claimed that bandits learnt kidnapping from Niger Delta militants, advising the Nigerian government to extend amnesty to them as it was done to the militants.
Gumi, who has been visiting the gunmen in the forest in an attempt to negotiate a peace deal with them, said anyone who goes ahead with criminal activities after amnesty has been granted should be dealt with.
The cleric’s tour however drew mixed reactions among Nigerians, with many people criticising him, including the governor of Kaduna state Nasir El-Rufai, who described the move as useless.
Speaking recently at a virtual event hosted by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies, Gumi said that the gunmen will not surrender until they feel safe.
He said, “Nobody can justify criminality, what we are saying is what we saw in the forest is an ethnic war going on between people in the forest and the neighbouring villages and hamlets. When the herder felt he had grievances and nobody was listening to him, he took up weapons.
“So when we went there and they saw a listening ear, they were ready to negotiate, tell us their grievances, and ready to incorporate into the society. So in such a case, I see no reason why we should not have a dialogue with them.
“Looking at their educational status, they don’t have any official or unofficial education. How can a nation which is serious about security leave a chunk of its society so uneducated, leave it to arms and drugs? I don’t think that society is serious. How can we disperse them, rehabilitate them because they are holding arms to protect themselves.
“If you don’t show them they’re safe in the larger society, there’s no way they can leave their weapon. And that’s why we asked for amnesty for them just like we had in the Niger Delta.
“I’m not justifying their kidnapping, what they do is crime. But their kidnapping is to get more money to buy more weapons so that they can protect themselves.”