Abuja, Nigeria — NIGERIAN bandits have reportedly refused to let go of their arms if the government does not assure them of their safety and rehabilitation.
The refusal to stop the militancy is in defiance to the stance by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari against a potential amnesty programme.
Ahmad Gumi, an Islamic cleric and the reported federal government-backed negotiator, insisted the bandits' opposition to the government's stance.
He maintained that the government should grant amnesty to the bandits, just as was done to Niger Delta ex-militants.
The Nextier Security, Peace and Development (SPD) said while the Nigerian government insisted on bandits' total clampdown, Gumi's statement indicated the continuation of bandits' violence if amnesty was not offered to them.
The thinktank added that consequently, Nigeria must brace up for increased conflict between the armed forces, residents in hotspots versus armed bandits.
"The no amnesty stance hints that the era of banditry is far from over without a revamped combat action. Therefore, the Nigerian government needs to match words with actions," SPD stated.
Garba Shehu, a presidential spokesperson, said Buhari, had directed security agencies to "shoot anyone seen with an AK-47."
Armed banditry has rocked the northwest and north-central Nigeria regions with mass murders, abductions, and looting of communities in recent years.
This is in addition to the Boko Haram terror northeast of the country.