Nigeria: Morality and Rehabilitation of Bandits in Katsina

25 September 2020

Katsina — I read with dismay the disturbing news that Katsina State government is planning to rehabilitate repentant bandits.

This particular move is ill- conceived, glaringly flawed, and a mockery on the victims of this carnage.

Let me begin by reminding you that this is not the first time His Excellency, Governor Aminu Bello Masari is extending the hands of friendship to bandits.

The governor was seen taking the hazardous journey in to the forest to meet with the warlords of these bandits and discuss with them his intention of giving them the chance to embrace peace.

Though many discerning minds and security experts voiced their concern that the move is a fruitless endeavor, the governor seemed determined.

However, none of the previous attempts at peace settlement resulted in bringing the end of the bloodshed.

The bandits reneged on each of the two amnesties granted them after a hefty sum of money was wasted.

Instead of them to embrace peace, they became even more emboldened and audacious in carrying out their attacks.

Not so long ago the governor publicly admitted to being betrayed by the bandits and vowed not to negotiate peace with them again.

He also admitted to have been ashamed of facing the public due to his failure to protect the lives and properties of his people.

One may think that the wise thing for the governor to do is to treat the bandits with an iron fist.

However, for reason best known to him and his handlers, they are now offering the terrorists another chance for the third time.

This is ridiculous!

I find it hard to fathom the reason as to why a government will be so lenient to terrorists, offering them amnesty even after they reneged on two consecutive times.

What makes the Masari-led administration to assume the bandits could not betray them for the third time is what defies logic.

What mechanism did the government put in place to ascertain the repentance is borne out of genuine remorse but not the desire to get financial incentives and find their way back to their old habit?

The programme is unsustainable and as soon as the incentives are stopped, the bandits would just resume their criminal activities.

The social mechanism to integrate them was not established.

Come to think of a situation where victims share the same market space with an ex- bandit who killed our family, raped our women before our eyes and collect millions from us as ransom for kidnapping our loved ones.

Just imagine a scenario where, as a victim, you passed by a beautiful house belonging to an ex- bandit, enjoying his life, after all the atrocities he committed.

The envy, anger, frustration and the feeling of being neglected by the very people saddled with the responsibility of protecting you will be too hard to bear.

To say the least, it is insensitive to the collective sensibilities of the people.

Need I remind the government that they are creating discontent in the land and this may further deepen the crisis for almost all the marginalised groups in the society are aggrieved and have the potential of becoming just like the bandits or even worse but chose to be responsible citizens.

Instead of government to come up with policies to demonstrate the benefits of being moral and law-abiding, they are more concerned with spending huge money on those that took arms against the state.

Is this not literally telling other marginalised groups to also take arms since that's a sure bet to having a decent life?

When victims of banditry are living in deplorable conditions after their houses raised to the ground, the possessions confiscated, their source of livelihood destroyed and farms abandoned because of fear and hundreds of people are still in IDPs camps across the state, rehabilitation for the perpetrators of these heinous crimes is a misplacement of priority.

The victims deserve to be assisted much more than the criminals.

The move is uncalled for and have the potential of exacerbating the very insecurity it intends to address.

Sadiq Tijjani Inuwa, a student of Military History at NDA, Kaduna, wrote from Bakori, Katsina State

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