Over the weekend, some video clips of a supposed peace meeting between bandits and members of Fankama community in Faskari Local Government Area of Katsina State went viral.
Sources from the community said it was only a meeting between the bandits and military men who came from Abuja but without the involvement of the community members.
Others said the meeting was between the community and the bandit aimed at achieving a truce.
While some linked the Katsina State governor, Malam Dikko Umaru Radda, with the truce, accusing him of going back on his words after repeatedly saying his administration would not negotiate with bandits, others distanced him from it saying he was not involved whatsoever.
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One of the commentators who identified himself as Abdullahi Ahmed Faskari, said from what he gathered, Governor Radda or his administration were not involved in any way in the truce.
“The leader of the soldiers who came said they were acting on directives from the federal government, saying it was not for Katsina alone but all over the affected states as they have already done that twice in Zamfara,” he said.
Also distancing the Katsina State government from the said truce, the Director-General (Media) to the governor, Malam Maiwada Danmallam, said while the government was not informed prior to the truce, it did not come as a surprise having known that security is on the exclusive list of the constitution, which means it is federal government’s exclusive statutory responsibility.
“It is well known that the governor said he is not going to negotiate with bandits and his reasons were well-known as well.
“Peace deals with bandits were entered into in the past and we have seen the results, we were only buying temporary peace and you don’t do the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result.
“This is why His Excellency has chosen to instead support the security agencies, and enhance their logistics and functionality in order to get more results from them.”
In one of the video clips sighted by Daily Trust, several of the gun-wielding bandits were seen on their motorbikes, with one of the military officers directing one Sanusi on the phone to go along the road and inform their people that “Fulani” were going to pass, let no one approach or bother them as they were coming from a truce.
However, it was not clear who initiated or facilitated the truce as some members of the community disclosed that the soldiers who participated in the meeting said they were there on the directive from the federal government.
A source working with Faskari LGA, who pleaded anonymity, told our reporter that the military men, “who came from elsewhere” said they were asked to invite the Faskari Council Chairman to the meeting, but when he was unable to attend, they asked him to send a representative.
“According to what we heard, the negotiations started at the federal level with either Miyetti Allah or the federal government itself asking the bandits to stop all attacks, drop their weapons and release all captives in their hands,” he said.
Another resident of the community, who expressed displeasure over the development, said it was through a similar truce in the past that the bandits were able to infest other residents who turned informants.
“If you go to our village now, you will see the bandits freely with their guns in the name of a peace deal. What sort of truce is that where a terrorist is left with his weapon?” he asked.
“Our people only saw the bandits coming and they saw the soldiers also coming, they met and dispersed without inviting anyone,” he added.
Defence headquarters reacts
In another development, the Defence Headquarters has reacted to the video circulating on social media.
Director of Defence Information, Brigadier General Tukur Gusau, in a press statement said the military was investigating the video to confirm its authenticity as regards the soldiers seen in uniform.
He disclosed that the DHQ was aware of the resolve of some bandits to repent and hand over their weapons to the authorities.
Gusau reaffirmed that the Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Gwabin Musa, has assured Nigerians of the readiness of the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) to engage in every lawful means possible to ensure peace and stability reign in the nation.
“The DHQ assures Nigerians that its non-kinetic measures aimed at the restoration of peace are yielding results, with several bandits and other criminal elements surrendering to authority.
“Governments at all levels are encouraged to allow bandits genuinely willing to surrender to do so while the window is still open. Defence Headquarters is doing everything possible to restore peace and tranquillity all over the country and urges all citizens to remain calm and be law-abiding,” he said.