The governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle, says his dialogue with bandits has significantly reduced killings in the state.
Mr Matawalle thanked Islamic scholar, Ahmad Gummi, for visiting forests in the state to speak with the bandits and urged other clerics to take their messages to the forests.
The governor spoke at the Jumaat service at the Eid Praying Ground, Gusau, the state capital, on Friday.
He promised to sustain the dialogue with the hoodlums as a result of its success.
Mr Matawalle initiated dialogue with bandits who were blamed for rampant violent crimes such as kidnapping for ransom, cow rustling and highway robbery in the state.
Although many Nigerians condemned the policy, saying it encourages criminality, the state government said many kidnapped victims have been released due to the dialogue and some of the bandits have laid down their arms.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported how protesters in the state accused the state government and some traditional rulers of underreporting their ordeals with the gunmen who attack their communities at will.
The protesters had called for the termination of the government’s dialogues with the bandits and demanded to be allowed to carry weapons for self-defence.
But Mr Matawalle insisted the policy is working.
“The peace process was the only way to address the security situation in the state and a lot of success has been recorded since the commencement of the peace process,” the governor said on Friday.
He said Allah instructed the Muslim Ummah to dialogue with one another to resolve crisis, insecurity and injustice in order to foster unity, understanding and love.
Mr Matawalle said that his administration could not fold its arms and watch people being killed by criminals.
“My administration inherited the insecurity from the past administration but with peace dialogue initiative, the situation has been reduced to a minimum level, which now makes citizens of the state move freely without any fear of attacks or kidnapping as was the case before,” the governor said.
At the event, the governor thanked Mr Gummi, who during the week visited forests in the state met with the bandits to preach peace and ask to know their reasons for taking to crime.
Mr Matawalle charged other Islamic scholars to emulate Mr Gummi in reaching out to the bandits through teachings and preaching the word of God in Islam.
Education can address banditry
Earlier, Mr Gummi attributed the security situation in the state to illiteracy and urged the federal and state governments to initiate programmes that will equip the bandits with Western and Islamic knowledge.
The Islamic scholar said through education, killings and destruction of properties could be stopped in the region.
Mr Gummi also advised Islamic scholars to take their Da’awa and preaching to the rural areas, saying most of the people living in the forest lack knowledge of Islam and do not know right or wrong in their deeds.
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