Zamfara State Government has thanked ‘repentant’ bandits in the state for assisting the government in negotiating with those who have refused to surrender and in apprehending those who refused to surrender.
Special Adviser on Public Enlightenment, Media and Communication to Governor Bello Matawalle, Zailani Bappa, disclosed this while reacting to SaharaReporters’ publication exposing gifts given to ‘ex-bandits’ by the government.
The newspaper had on Tuesday exposed how about 15 brand new Hilux vehicles were given to leaders of different 'repentant' banditry groups by Governor Matawalle.
The governor also approved millions of naira to be given to the 'repentant' bandits as compensation.
A top military officer told SaharaReporters that the bandits now carry out attacks with some of the vehicles given to them by Matawalle.
The officer said, “Those bandits have different groups, so if they say they have repented, the governor will give them a Hilux vehicle but unfortunately they are now using the vehicles to carry out attacks.
“On Sunday, they attacked Jankara but were resisted by the local vigilantes, so they fled and left behind one of those Hilux vehicles and the motorcycles they came with.
“It’s so sad; he called it a peace and reconciliation programme, but all you need to be rich now in Zamfara is to take up arms against the people.”
But Bappa in a statement debunked the story.
He said, “In fact, the state government is grateful to these so-called repentant bandits who are daily assisting the government in negotiating with those who refuse to surrender and in apprehending those who refuse to surrender.
“With all the programmes of the government towards peace in the state, at no time did the state give vehicles or money to the so-called repentant bandits because there was no agreement to such.
“This is thus, a wicked allegation and simply a figment of the writer’s imagination or an intended machination to discredit the administration of His Excellency Governor Bello Muhammad and undermine the peace efforts in the state.”