By Sadiq Tijjani Inuwa
I read with dismay the disturbing the news that Katsina State Government is planning to rehabilitate repentant bandints. According to the report, those who accept to surrender their arms are to be given houses in a new settlement to be established at Dajin Rugu forest, this in order to prevent the forest from being inhabited by the bandits. The new settlements will be provided with all the necessary infrastructures such as schools and; farms, market stalls and other incentives are to be given to the repentant bandits to make their life easy. The report said, some of the areas being considered for the new settlements include Yantumaki- Maidabino forest, and Sabuwa/ Faskari areas.
I am in support of any workable solution that may end the scourge of violent attacks characterized by incessant killings and kidnapping for ransom unleashed on my people. However, this particular move is ill- concieved, glaringly flawed and a mockery on the victims of this carnage.
Let me begin by reminding you that this is not the first time His Excellency, Governor Aminu Bello Masari is extending the hands of friendship to bandits. The governor was seen taking the hazardous journey in to the forest to meet with the warlords of these bandits and discuss with them his intention of giving them the chance to embrace peace. Though many discerning minds and security expert voiced their concern that the move is a fruitless endeavor, the governor seemed determined. However, none of the previous attempt at peace settlement resulted in bringing the end of the bloodshed. The bandits reneged on each of the two amnesty granted to them after a hefty sum of money was wasted. Instead of them to embrace peace they became even more emboldened and audacious in carrying out their attacks. Not so long ago the governor publically admitted to being betrayed by the bandits and vows not to negotiate peace with them, again. He also admitted to have been ashamed of facing the public due to his failure to protect the live and properties of his people. One may think that the wise thing to do for the governor is to treat the bandits with an iron fist. However, for reason best known to him and his handlers, they are now offering the terrorists another chance for the third time. This is ridiculous!
I find it hard to fathom the reason as to why a government will be so lenient to terrorist, offering them amnesty even after they reneged on two consecutive times. What made Masari led administration to assume the bandits could not betray them for the third time is what defies logic. What mechanism did the government put in place to ascertain the repentance is borne out of genuine remorse not the desire to get financial incentives and find their way back to their old habit? The program is unsustainable and as soon as the incentives are stopped the bandints would just resume their criminal activities.
The social mechanism to integrate them was not established. Come to think of a situation where victims share the same market space with an ex- bandit who killed our family, raped our women before our eyes and collect millions from us as ransom for kidnapping our love ones. Just imagine a scenario where as a victim you passed by a beautiful house belonging to an ex- bandit, enjoying his life, after all the atrocities he committed. The envy, angers, frustration and the feeling of being neglected by the very people saddled with the responsibility of protecting you will be too hard to bear.
In a society where law abiding citizens are wallowing in the deep pit of poverty, the educated ones resorted to all sort of menial jobs to erk a living because the system denied them the opportunity to excel — offering house, farm and shops to criminals while a good citizen could spend his entire life hustling, without having the means to own a house, is to say the least insensitive to collective sensibilities of the people.
Need I remind the government that they are creating discontent in the land and this may further deepen the crisis for almost all the marginalized groups in the society are aggrieved and have the potentials of becoming just like the bandits or even worse but chose to be responsible citizens. Instead of government to come up with policies to demonstrate the benefits of being moral, law-abiding, they are more concern with spending huge money on those that took arms against the state. Is this not literally telling other marginalized groups to also take arms since that’s a sure bet to having a decent life?
When victims of banditry are living in deplorable conditions after their houses raised to the ground, the possessions confiscated, their source of livelihood destroyed and farms abondoned because of fear and hundreds of people are still in IDPs camp across the state, rehabilitation for the perpetrators of these hineous crimes is a misplacement of priority. The victims deserve to be assisted much more than the criminals. The move is uncalled for and have the potential of excercabating the very insecurity it intends to address.
Allah raya Jihar Katsina.