Last week, Sheikh Ahmed Gumi met with some bandits and suggested amnesty should be granted to those who repented. There have been mixed reactions from Nigerians regarding this. Daily Trust samples some opinions.
Bilkisu Yero, Lecturer, Kaduna
I actually do not believe amnesty should be granted to bandits. Besides, more people will see it as a shortcut to success looking at how past repented criminals are treated when granted amnesty. If they can take weapons and start killing people for no reason, I do not see any reason for them to stop going back to the same action when their demands are not met.
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Chuks Ugokwe, Civil Servant
I don’t think is the right step in the right direction. Those who commit crime should be punished for their crimes. It is strange to be thinking about granting them amnesty. It is time we start to implement our laws religiously. We have laws, which states that if you offend, you face their actions.
Do you mean that we should grant amnesty to people who had killed and maimed people in society? It is not fair to grant amnesty to them.
Dr Said Ahmad Khalid, 41, Lecturer, Gusau
There are two issues involved here. One, giving amnesty to criminals in some circumstances is good, but if such criminals are doing it for a particular course, meaning they have something, a clear goal that they want to achieve. But, if those criminals have no particular course that they are fighting for, they are only doing their atrocities for crime sake, such people need not be given any amnesty because their criminal tendency will always be there and if the circumstances warrant, they can go back to their criminal way. So for me giving amnesty to bandits now, under the present situation, is one of the fatal mistakes that the government will make.
Tunde Madehin, 52, Advertising Practitioner, Lagos
Bandits don’t deserve any amnesty. Why should they be granted one? I’m fully in support of what Gov El-Rufai said on the BBC Hausa Service.
He has been there. He has experience. If they are granted amnesty, they will never honour it.
Then you are going to be meeting with different groups and new ones will continue to spring up here and there.
The best way is to appeal to them to drop their arms and ammunitions and embrace peace.
A rehabilitation programme should be established to teach them vocations or farming. It should never be monetary.
What are they agitating for? It’s wrong and criminal to equate them to MEND, who were or are fighting for rights of the Oil-rich region, what rights are the Bandits fighting for? Right to Rape? Right to kill and maim? Right to kidnap? These guys are criminals and should be dealt with.
Samira Usman Adam, 30, Girl Child Activist, Kano
Granting amnesty to bandits is like giving them more support to change their strategies on attacking the masses, the same Zamfara bandits that were given amnesty packed to other places like Kaduna, Katsina and other northern states that bloodshed has become a normal routine for them. In developed countries, bandits are sent to either life imprisonment or are sentenced to death. That punishment will make most of the people developing interest in the act to be scared away.
Dr. Auwal Abdullahi, 47, Activist, Kaduna
Why would you want to grant amnesty to people who maim and destroy the property of innocent Nigerians without any reason? I am of the opinion that the life sentence that is being adopted by all the State Houses of Assembly for rapists should also apply to kidnappers and bandits. A bandit who cares less about human life and cares more about the property of others that does not belong to him, so why do you think the government should give amnesty to such people? I think a stiffer punishment should be directed towards people that are doing that, possibly, that will scare them from perpetrating such acts. He should also have an open sentence where whatever punishment is allocated to him be carried out openly in public so that it will serve as a deterrent and a lesson for those that have such intentions or those involved in it.
Pastor Mike Tayese, 50, Clergy, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State
Giving amnesty to bandits is an anathema which directly or indirectly gives legitimacy to criminality. The criminal elements you want to pay with taxpayers money, what was their agitation, what are they fighting for? If they want to give amnesty to a criminal, then let every youth turn to banditry, so that we can receive free money.
Okechukwu Onuegbu, student
Granting amnesty to a criminal is not the best option. They should face the law and if the government must forgive them, it must make sure it gives them adequate training that will integrate them into the society to be responsible citizens.
You don’t just grant them amnesty by giving them money to start a new life.
Train them to be useful in society and those found wanting should be made to face the laws to serve as a deterrent to others. Last time I visited Ogoni, many people were building mansions as a result of the amnesty. Amnesty is a big business for some people, they will just go and buy guns and present to the government claiming they were militant and the government will give them good money.
In fact, the present style of amnesty in the country is encouraging unrest and criminalities.
Aminu Ilyasu Kajuru, 28, Web Designer, Kaduna
I think it is a step in the right direction to grant amnesty to bandits because it is a step towards achieving the much-needed peace we yearn for in this country. The Federal Government should ensure that all the mechanisms required to achieve peace through amnesty for the bandits are put in place in order to ensure the expected outcome of the pardon is achieved.
Eunice Nnachi, 41, Journalist, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State
How can amnesty be given to criminals that have killed and maimed many Nigerians mostly in the North? Were they aggrieved at first instance? It is a way of indulging and encouraging criminality. Giving them amnesty cannot stop banditry then, rather it will increase crimes in the country. Is it because Niger Delta militants were given amnesty? Those people were fighting the neglect of Niger Delta regions, where the wealth of the nation is derived from. Bandits are supposed to be punished, giving them amnesty portends danger for the future.
Muhammad Bashir, 41, Civil Servant, Katsina
This amnesty programme was started by President Umaru Yar’adua for the Niger Delta militants and it yielded positive results. So if it will yield good results here, I think it is worth doing because we need peace. With peace, I think even the prices of commodities will go down because I believe this problem of insecurity is affecting prices of commodities, particularly foodstuff, as farmers in some areas could not go to their farms for fear of their lives. So in my opinion, the government should talk to them, if they are genuinely willing to lay down their weapons and embrace peace, the government should find a way of compensating them, by sending their children to school, and training them on different trades for them to get something to do.”
Anthony Okafor, lawyer, Akwa
Granting amnesty to people who offended the laws and repented is part of the justice system. Somebody who goes away from his bad past life to a good one, justice system allows the person to be granted amnesty.
I am not against giving amnesty to anybody but should not be sectionalized, it should cut across to serve the purpose of integration. If it is done to Boko Haram, it should be done IPOB, Nigeria Delta and others agitators in the country. I am in total support of granting amnesty to bandit because it is in line with the Nigeria justice system.
From Zahraddeen Yakubu Shuaibu, Kano, Maryam Ahmadu-Suka, Kaduna, Bassey Willie, Yenagoa, Titus Eleweke, Awka, Risikat Ramoni, Lagos & Tijjani Ibrahim, Katsina