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Negotiating with bandits, sign of failed nation, says Shehu Sani

Pro-democracy and human rights activist, Senator Shehu Sani has described the move by the Presidency and the Zamfara State government at talking with the bandits who have continued to wreak havoc in many parts of the country as sign of a failed nation. 

Sani spoke in an exclusive interview with The Nigerian Xpress on the mind boggling insecurity in the country and other issues.

According to him, it was because the people of Zamfara had suffered so much in the hands of bandits that they thought anything, even if it involved negotiating with the criminals would be okay.

Sani who represented Kaduna Central Senatorial District in the eighth Assembly cautioned, however, that bandits unlike insurgents had no ideology beyond just picking arms to kill, maim and loot.

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He lamented that because the government and even the Presidency had tried other measures, which had failed, hence the resort to dialoguing with criminals.

“That was because everything that has been tried in the past has failed. Now, they are trying the option of talking to bandits and it is symbolic of the failing state of this nation – if with our military establishments, the security agencies, the billions, which we pumped into security and defence mechanisms, we were unable to end banditry in our country and we have now got to a point of sitting down and taking coffee with them. It shows the failure of the nation,” he said.

The rights activist suggested the use of technology in better fighting insurgency and banditry.

“I believe that the way out is to explore the technology option to address all these issues. Our approach to ending such violence has always been how we can put soldiers on the road to open car boots and police to flash torchlight on faces or using aeroplane to bomb targets, which is too expensive. There is nothing wrong in using aeroplanes in attacking places where you are sure there are groups of insurgents.

“But these criminals – if they are five, six, 10, how do you see them before even using jets to bomb them? But if we use technology, we will be able to see them. We need a special military security and technology command where drones and satellite navigation equipment, interceptors and all modern technology will be used. That Command should be located in Northern Nigeria, where every move of every criminal can be detected within the space of a second.

“It is ironic that a country like China, with 1.3 billion people and a land mass that is five to six times our own can secure their country, while we cannot secure our own. It is a failure of the state, failure of the system.”

He warned that if proactive measure is not quickly taken, Nigeria, which, he noted, had become a hub for West African herdsmen would automatically become their headquarters as they would become uncontrollable.

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“We need to look at the fact that Nigeria is becoming a hub for West African herdsmen and just like the way extremists were moving to Iraq and Syria for ISIS, herdsmen across West Africa, the very violent ones are moving towards Nigeria because kidnapping for ransom and banditry have become more lucrative than cattle rearing. So, I am very much concerned that if this trend is not checked, infiltration to Southern part of Nigeria will even be on a larger scale than it is now.”

Sani, however, said the concept of ‘Fulanisation’ of Nigeria as a term used by many Nigerians should rather be referred to as nepotism on the part of the government, which had given room for the rise of violent herdsmen in the country.

“So, rather than say ‘Fulanisation’ we can accept the fact that there is nepotism in this government, we can also accept the fact that we failed to take measures to curtail these problems earlier before it became as big as it is now. And this has to do with the fact that those of us who tried to draw the attention of the president from the beginning were considered his enemies. Unfortunately, those considered as the president’s friends were unable to properly advise him. So, they created a wall of lies and only sing his praises and eulogies without actually addressing issues that are of utmost importance to Nigerians,” he said.


The full interview can be read in the hard copy of The Nigerian Xpress published on Mondays and online at www.thexpressng.com.