The Special Adviser on Media and Communication to Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State, Zailani Bappa, has debunked media reports quoting the governor as promising bandits two cattle for surrendering 1 AK-47 rifle in the state.
Mr Bappa, in a statement sent to DAILY NIGERIAN on Friday, said that what the governor actually meant was that his administration had initiated cattle empowerment plan and RUGA settlement projects as reintegration plans for the bandits who willingly renounce criminality in the state.
“Reintegration is an international best practice of taming criminality. Even the repentant Boko Haram members are currently undergoing the process.
“So, empowering them [ex-bandits] economically is one of the plans, since most of them are herders. Giving them a cow which they had sold to buy rifles is a good initiative and a brilliant way of taking them away from criminality.
Mr Bappa, therefore, disclosed that the peace initiative introduced by the Matawalle administration in the last one year had brought the relative peace in the state without any monetary inducement or “trade by barter” with the bandits.
The governor’s media aide also disclosed that over 200 sophisticated weapons were “surrendered willingly” by the repentant bandits in the last one year.
According to him, over 1,000 kidnapped victims had got their freedom without a Kobo paid as ransom.
The statement also noted that the peace initiative has a clause where the governor promised to resettle those who willingly accept to abandon crime and settle down as normal people.
“That is why the idea of constructing RUGA settlement project by the state government came to being.
“Hence, the cows promised by Governor Matawalle Mohammed are for those who accepted the peace accord and have re-integrated into the society to live a normal life because it is their cattle they sold to buy the sophisticated weapons which they have now surrendered.
“It is true, practical and verifiable that the ex-bandits who had laid down their arms are now living a normal life in our communities and are even helping the security agencies in dealing with their recalcitrant colleagues who are still hiding in the bush unleashing terror on our local communities.
“It is, therefore, very uncharitable to allege a “trade – by – barter” between the bandits and the state Government instead seeing it as a genuine attempt to empower those remorseful and repentant bandits who have since joined the community to live a normal life,” Mr Bappa lamented.