From Sola Ojo, Kaduna
Bandits killed 1,260 persons and kidnapped 2,021 others in different communities in Kaduna State between January 2020 and March 2021.
Featuring on a Kaduna-based radio programme, yesterday, Commissioner, Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, said there was no justification whatsoever to embark on such cruelty, hence the decision of the state government not to negotiate with the bandits.
In 2020, government official said bandits killed 937 persons and kidnapped 1,072 others while they killed 232 and kidnapped 949 persons in the first quarter of 2021.
“It may also interest you to know that they crippled the local economy – they destroyed farms. This is the summary of the 2020 report. In that report, we came out with recommendations responsible for what we are witnessing in the state. We look at the misrepresentation, misunderstanding of the nature of the banditry that we are experiencing.
“In summary, banditry started within the herders community – those that ran out of cattle and those that were rustling or dispossesing others of their cattle. The response of the state to this issue at that time was not significant. People were left on their own. Those that lost their cattle started procuring arms to protect their animals.
“Those who are rustling have started enjoying the proceeds of their criminality. They have also come in contact with gun runners. From there, it metamorphosed into kidnapping and forced their families to pay the ransom. It got to a level where armed bandits prefer to kidnap on the highway.
“When you meet bandits, they will tell you the emotional side of the story and as I said, it is like a theatre. They bring fighters, well-armed, trying to create a certain expression that yes, they are non-state actors, but they are very powerful. And when you go out with such narratives, you will only dish out the emotional narrative and not the true state of their mind.
“But, when you have the interception of telephones that are linked to these bandits, you will know their system operation procedure (SOP) as they discuss their movement from one location to another which is the real state of their mind contrary to information you will have when you meet with them.
“They don’t have justification for what they do. When they cross from one state to another, they attack communities, kill and rape people, set the community on fire. So, on what basis are you going to negotiate or you want to give amnesty? There are two or three states in the North West that have practised amnesty and negotiation. What as that yield?
“In one of the states that I don’t want to mention, two weeks ago, on a particular Wednesday afternoon, they killed 35 people. Two days after, they killed about 47 people. On the same week’s Saturday, they killed about 83 in another location. You look at how people are traumatised. You look at the destruction. You look at the public resources that were expended in the name of amnesty or negotiation. What has it yielded?” the commissioner queried.