Government officials are scratching their heads to come up with a lasting solution to the country’s worsening security challenges. In their latest attempt, the federal government has maintained that there is nothing wrong in dialoguing with bandits.
Last Wednesday, gunmen suspected to be bandits stormed the Government Science College (GSC) Kagara, Rafi LGA of Niger state, and kidnapped several students, members of staff, and some members of their families.
More than 40 people are still unaccounted for.
Abubakar Bello, governor of Niger, had noted that his government is doing everything to rescue the victims, including facilitating negotiations with the bandits.
While speaking during a radio program monitored by NAN on Sunday, Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, responded to Nigerians who had expressed opposition against the strategy of negotiating with the abductors.
Lai stated that nothing is wrong in dialoguing with the bandits, so long as the ultimate objective is to make peace.
“After war, people still sit to dialogue. So if some people have taken it upon themselves to visit these people so that they can embrace peace, I don’t think there is anything wrong with that,” the minister explained.
Speaking further, he noted that FG would not pay any ransom to secure the release of abductees of GSC Kagara.
He also denied FG paid a ransom to secure the release of over 300 children earlier abducted in Kankara, Katsina.
Although an investigation by the Wall Street Journal concluded that ransom was indeed paid in that episode. The American publication said it found definitive evidence after interviewing some of the kidnapped schoolboys.
Lai Mohammed is not the only government official suggesting bandits be paid off for peace to reign. Last week, the governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle, offered an alternative argument saying not all bandits who have been on a rampage across the country are criminals.
The governor argued that most of the bandits take up arms due to the injustice meted on them by some members of society.
On the herders-farmers crisis in parts of the country, Lai said the government is taking steps to address it. According to him, this includes plans for intensive cattle-rearing to ensure that cattle rearing and crop farming don’t conflict.