Zamfara Governor insists on evidence of FG’s sneaky negotiations with bandits

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The Governor of Zamfara State, Dauda Lawal, on Tuesday said his government has enough facts and evidence to expose the agents of the Federal Government behind the secret negotiation with bandits.

The Governor said this in response to a statement on Monday by the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, accusing his government of politicizing security after it disclosed that the Federal Government negotiated secretly with bandits to rescue 16 female students and some workers abducted from the Federal University, Gusau.

The troops of the Nigerian Army had rescued the abductees barely 72 hours after they were abducted by armed men on September 22.

After the release, Lawal, had in a statement signed by his spokesperson, Sulaiman Idris accused the Federal Government of sabotaging the ongoing fight against banditry in the state by negotiating with bandits behind the state government.

In the statement, Lawal said, “Reports indicated that a delegation allegedly sent by some agencies of the Federal Government has been holding talks with bandit groups in Zamfara without the knowledge of the State Government.”

He called on the Federal Government to clarify and investigate the actions of some unscrupulous elements sabotaging the ongoing fight against banditry in Zamfara.

Responding to the allegation, the Minister of Information, in a statement by his spokesperson Suleiman Haruna on Monday night denied negotiating with bandits and accused the Zamfara governor of politicizing security matters.

“Rather than appreciate security agents and Federal Government institutions for the prompt effort to rescue the abducted students of the Federal University Gusau, chose to play politics with the sensitive matter for cheap political goals.

“The Minister observes that Federal Government institutions are empowered by law to spring to action, with or without prompting, to ensure safe return of citizens illegally taken hostage, like in the case of these hapless students. The fact that details of such delicate operations are not revealed by the institutions responsible does not make it in any way surreptitious, as the Zamfara State Government atrociously described this effort.

“For the avoidance of doubt, no official of the Federal Government is engaged in negotiation with any bandit or group of bandits. The government, however, maintains its resolve to explore every available avenue that can lead to de-escalation of tension and bring back peace to communities ravaged by banditry”, the statement also read.

Reacting to the statement by the minister, the Governor, in a statement on Tuesday morning signed by his spokesperson, Sulaiman Bala Idris, revealed that the state government possesses hard evidence of the Federal government’s “sneaky negotiations.”

He said the Minister of Information should have conducted a thorough investigation before discrediting the state government.

According to him, the Information Minister’s statement claiming that there were no negotiations between government officials and bandits in Zamfara requires further clarification.

“We have already exposed a few locations where such talks were held with bandits, such as Birnin Magaji, Maradun, Mun Haye, Ajah, Bawo, and Bagege.

“We sought clarification from the Federal Government regarding the sneaky negotiations with bandits carried out by some of its agents without recourse to the State Government and heads of Security agencies in the State.

“We have facts and evidence on what had transpired between these agents of the Federal Government and the bandits during the negotiations in several places across Zamfara.

“It is disappointing that the Information Minister discredited our claim without verifying it first. What is expected of him as a professional is to collaborate with relevant authorities to substantiate the claim’s authenticity”, the statement further read.

The governor maintained that the Zamfara State government respected protocol and established authority, and that was why it would not come out in the media to start exposing the names of the Federal Government agents involved in the covert dialogue with bandits.

He clarified that those individuals leading secret negotiations with bandits in Zamfara were politicizing insecurity, not the state government.

The Governor warned that negotiating with bandits in Zamfara is a grave mistake, and not the solution to the problem and only encourages and emboldens the criminals.