Nigeria’s Minister of Police Affairs, Maigari Dingyadi, has said ‘repentant’ bandits deserve to be reintegrated into society because they are Nigerian citizens.
Dingyadi spoke on Tuesday during an interview on Channels Television, which was monitored by SaharaReporters.
Some Boko Haram terrorists terrorising the North-East and bandits terrorising terrorising North-West Nigeria have been surrendering their weapons and given amnesty, a move that has attracted public criticism.
Answering questions about the window of opportunity available to 'repentant' bandits, the minister said since they are Nigerians and have surrendered their weapons, they are free to rejoin society.
He said, “When you talk of amnesty, it is a relative term and what the Federal Government is trying to say is ‘Let us see those who have surrendered their arms, let us listen to them, let us chronicle them, let us receive them. We cannot just throw these people away because they are all Nigerians.
“Of course, they are criminals. They have committed atrocities, they have committed crimes, but according to the international laws, when you surrender from a war zone, you are not killed, you are not maimed, you are allowed to have your say. We are listening to them to see how we can integrate them into the larger society. What we are trying to do is to get them settled in their various communities, to let them have a kind of means of livelihood so that they can integrate peacefully and honourably into the society.”
Speaking further, the minister noted that “anybody willing to surrender and do it honourably and honestly, government is ready to listen, government is ready to see what they can do to settle them down without much cost.
“As a nation we have responsibilities to our citizens, to integrate them with the little that we can afford to give them and we will continue to monitor what they are doing in their various communities to ensure that they don’t go back to their old days of armed banditry and all of them. We will monitor them and ensure that they don’t go back to their bad old days of armed banditry and kidnapping.”
Recently, the governor of Katsina, one of the states mostly affected by banditry, Aminu Masari expressed regrets that he gave bandits amnesty, stating that he was wrong to have believed that they repented years back.
According to Masari, the amnesty he granted bandits in 2016 should never have happened.
“The only thing I say is with the benefits of hindsight, I wouldn’t have done it because at that time when we started in 2016, there were leaders. But gradually, all the leaders were eliminated. That was the failure of the first round,” he said.