From John Adams, Minna
After months of onslaught on people across communities in Niger state, some groups of Bandits have held a meeting amongst themselves with a view to embrace a ceasefire in the state.
The meeting which was held in a forest around Shiroro local government area, considered to be the epic center of Banditry attacks in the state, had in attendance, Commanders of some terrorists groups operating in the state.
The bandits in the meeting were said to have deliberated on how to ceasefire and return to the path of peace.
Although the state government was invited to the “peace meeting” the government representatives could not attend for obvious reasons.
The decision of the bandits to embrace peace is not unconnected with the recent visit and dialogue between the bandits and Islamic Cleric, Sheik Ahmed Gunmi in their hideout.
The Secretary to Niger state governmenT (SSG) Alhaji Ahmed Ibrahim Matane confirmed this while briefing newsmen at Government House, Minna on Thursday.
According to him, “the meeting was held by the bandits in the forest last week but that government was not represented in the meeting.
“Government was aware of a peace meeting held by bandits and it held in their hideout in Shiroro local government area of the state last week.
“The meeting was summoned by a Commander of a bandits group resident in the state and he invited other Commanders from outside the state too for the meeting on how to restore peace back to Niger state,”
It could be recalled that the Secretary to the state government had attended a similar peace meetings with the bandits along with renowned Islamic Cleric, Sheik Gumi in their hideouts in the state.
Metane while justifying the reason why government did not attend the meeting, explained that the meeting was purely for the Commanders of various bandits within and outside the state to find a lasting solution to the incessant invasion of parts of the state in recent time.
“The state government was not represented at the meeting because we realised that the meeting was purely for other bandits from other locations to talk to each other on how to have permanent peace in the state.
“However, we have agreed that we will interface with them again to see where we can come in towards having a lasting peace in the state.
“Like I have always said, Security is like stick and Carrot and the state government will be willing to stretch its hand of friendship to those of them who are willing to be in the mainstream and eventually see reason why they should not carry arms but rather pursue a legitimate means of livelihood,” he declared.
Eighteen out of the twenty five local government areas of the state had been under the siege of bandits in the past few months with many lives and property worth millions of Naira lost to them.
Meanwhile the state government has rolled out some measures to curb the rising insecurity across the state, with the immediate withdrawal of all government vehicle registration numbers in circulation and replaced with new ones.
All the new Government number plate to be issued will now be on the Data Bank of government for effective monitoring and will be tracked down when misused.
The government said it was embarking on this measure because it discovered that government plate numbers were being used illegally especially by those not in government and those not also entitled to use them even within government cycle and thereby embarking on series of illegalities and thus bringing disrepute to government.
Similarly, the state government has also directed that all Motor, Tricycle and Motorcycle Parks operating illegally within and outside Minna, the state capital be dismantled and relocated to the authorised Parks in the state with immediate effect.
The state Commissioner for Transport who was represented by his Permanent Secretary, Dr. Ibrahim Garba Musa told Journalists during a Press briefing at Government House in Minna on Thursday that the clampdown on these illegal Parks are part of the steps taken by the state government to wage a total war against banditry and other insecurity in the state.
He also disclosed that all Tricycles and Motorcycles owners have been directed to register them immediately, adding that
“only those certified to be genuine will be issued with Riders Card to enable them operate and renewable after two years”.
Dr. Musa added that steps have reached an advanced level for the installation of Traffic Lights in most Junctions of the state capital and linked to the CCTV to trap any erring traffic ofenders.
“The state government is ready to enforce all traffic laws and anybody-Motorists,Tricycle or Motorcycle, Lorries and other vehicles trapped will be prosecuted.
“The Electronic gadgets will fish out traffic offenders and bandits even after escaping from the area of contravening the offence since it will be recorded,”the Permanent Secretary explained.