Auwalun Daudawa, the leader of the gang of bandits that abducted over 300 schoolboys in the Kankara Local Government Area of Katsina State who surrendered some weapons and ‘repented’ in February picked up arms again because he was not satisfied with what he was offered, a source has told SaharaReporters.
Daily Trust had on Thursday reported that Daudawa from Gidan Jaja had gone back to the forest less than three months after his celebrated repentance.
He and his gang had on December 11, 2020, invaded the school shooting indiscriminately to scare residents. The operation led to the disappearance of over 300 students.
Months after, Daudawa and members of his group took an oath to stop banditry and embrace the peace accord instituted by Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara state to end the decade-old banditry in the North-West region.
They surrendered 20 AK 47 rifles, 1 RPG, 1 PKT, 20 magazines and 72 live ammunition.
“We have voluntarily repented. I was convinced by the state government approaches on peace reconciliation with armed bandits. I learnt from those who repented before me that there was no single plan by the governments through use of security agencies to harm me and my boys, therefore, we are now back for normal lives like other peace-loving Nigerians,” he had said.
The bandits who swore by the Holy Qur’an indicated their willingness to stop banditry and embrace peace for the rest of their lives.
A source told SaharaReporters on Thursday that Daudawa abandoned the Zamfara state amnesty programme and returned to forest because he was not satisfied with the way his group was treated.
“He felt that they were abandoned by the government after they surrendered their weapons. Also, it wasn’t only his gang that returned to the forest, many other bandits who were given amnesty have also returned to their old ways.
“Many of them also embraced the idea initially with the aim of duping the government. Many of them didn’t truly repent, they were only in it to dupe the government. They saw it as a way to cheat the government.
“About 30 bandits, informants and suppliers of weapons for banditry were also arrested and taken to Abuja two days ago and some of the repented ones were found to be among them.
“That was the reason Matawalle said recently that they would start demolishing houses of suppliers of weapons,” the source told SaharaReporters.
Zamfara, like other North-West states, has in the last 10 years faced devastating attacks from armed bandits.
In 2019, the state government entered a peace agreement with the gunmen.
The government in its 2021 budget earmarked a total of N200 million for its amnesty programme for 'repentant' bandits.
But despite all these, communities in the state are still being attacked and residents kidnapped and/or killed.
About 15 brand new Hilux vehicles and cash gifts were also given to leaders of different 'repentant' banditry groups by the governor in 2020.
A top military officer recently told SaharaReporters that the bandits were carrying out attacks with some of the vehicles given to them by Matawalle.
The officer had said, “Those bandits have different groups, so if they say they repent, the governor will give them a Hilux vehicle but unfortunately they are now using the vehicles to carry out attacks.
“Like yesterday (Monday), they attacked Jankara but were resisted by the local vigilantes, so they fled and left one of those Hilux vehicles and the motorcycles they came with behind.
“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.”
Many people have criticised the controversial amnesty programmes for bandits in some northern states, describing it as expecting honour from dishonourable people.
Angered by renewed attacks by bandits in Katsina State, Governor Aminu Masari last June vowed not to negotiate with them again.
According to the governor, the bandits failed to honour previous agreements his government had with them.
Speaking to BBC Hausa in a live Instagram interview, the governor said: “They could not honour the agreement; they betrayed us.”
“We chose to sign the peace agreement with the bandits so as to avoid loss of lives and property, but it didn’t yield a positive result. This time around, we will hand it over to security personnel.
“In our effort to honour the agreement between us, we cancelled all vigilantes and volunteer groups and we allowed them (bandits) to continue with their normal activities in the state,” he said.