Apparently regretting his rapprochement with terrorists in Katsina State, Governor, Aminu Bello Masari, has vowed not to negotiate or trust the hoodlums again because of their nefarious activities despite the two peace deals he had with them.
The governor added that with the benefit of hindsight, his government should never have negotiated with the terrorists, let alone grant them amnesty because “they are not propagating any ideology, they are criminals.”
Masari explained that some of the ‘so-called repentant’ terrorists who were released from custody as a result of the peace deals are now leaders of terrorists with more than 100 gangs and various camps in Zamfara, Sokoto and Katsina states.
In an interactive session with members of a high-powered foreign delegation led by the Head of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Nigeria, Mohammed Yahya, at the Government House, Katsina, Masari insisted there was no need to negotiate with the criminals.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, Head of Cooperation, European Union in Nigeria, Cécile Tassin-Pelzer and Norway Ambassador to Nigeria, Knut Eiliv Lein, were among the delegation.
Although Governor Masari said he never regretted his decision at the time, he admitted that information available to him confirmed that engaging the terrorists who had killed and raped innocent citizens in the state was not the right thing to do.
Consequently, he urged the United Nations Development Programme, European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) to support the Nigerian government with the provision of technologies that will enable security agencies to have access to the nation’s ungoverned forest areas.
He said: “Because they (terrorists) said they are Muslims, we went as far as asking them to swear to the Holy Qur’an that they will never participate in banditry again. All of them did in this office but even those that have been in jail for over two years that were brought out are today bandits’ leaders.
“In fact, I will never trust them again because we realised they are not ideologically inclined. So, we are negotiating with thieves. Anybody who says he is going to engage them on anything is free. I will pray for him but I will not do it again.
“They have failed me once; they have failed me twice so I will be a fool to go the same way. And you even see the Zamfara governor who engaged them. They have failed him more than three times.”
Masari added: “They are common criminals. Even in Katsina not to talk of Zamfara, there are more than 100 gangs: a gang of two, three, four and a gang of 10, so with whom are you going to talk?”
Earlier, Yahya told the governor that the delegation was in the state to ascertain the security challenges afflicting the state and know what the international community can collectively do towards the development of the state.
According to him, the delegation was in Sokoto and Zamfara states as well as Niger Republic on the same mission where it discussed with security agencies, stakeholders, religious and community leaders.