The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, has reportedly met commanders of bandits in Zamfara State as parts of the measures to end the incessant wave of killing in the Northwestern state.
According to reports, the APC APC lawmaker was in Zamfara state to broker peace between the two warring factions. Their activities have led to the loss of hundreds of lives and destruction of property worth millions of Naira in the last three years.
Gbajabiamila who spoke to newsmen after the meeting between the bandits’ commanders and the volunteer local vigilance groups known as ‘Yan Sakai’.
The two groups, according to The Sun are responsible for banditry activities in the state.
The lawmaker described the dialogue and peace initiative of the Zamfara State government as a great feat that would lead to everlasting peace in the state.
The visit of the Speaker came barely 24 hours police said armed bandits operating in the state would lay down their weapons.
According to Zamfara State Commissioner of Police, Usman Nagogo, the disarmament was part of the next phase in the peace process. He said the bandits would disarm after the release of prisoners had been concluded.
It was gathered that bandits and vigilante groups who have been fighting each other in the state, have been holding a number of people captive, with the vigilante group claiming to be holding Fulani people captive, accusing armed men, mostly Fulani, of attacking and kidnapping members of rural communities, who are mostly Hausa farmers.
The Police boss said bandits, on their own, were surrendering their weapons as a mark of acceptance of the deal.
He said: “We are almost through with the issue of release of kidnapped persons. The disarmament process will begin next week. We are on top of the situation and we will sustain our effort to see that peace is restored.
He confirmed that a bandit had already surrendered his two rifles to the national chairman of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Muhammadu Kiruwa, “and more are willing to follow suit,” Nagogo said.
Mr. Nagogo said the current peace pact of the command is ongoing, with a view to rescuing all victims in captivity of bandits and militia groups, as well as receiving all arms and other offensive weapons in their possession.
He also confirmed that banditry attacks in Zamfara State had reduced by over 90 per cent, attributing the development to the talks initiated with the armed groups and vigilante.
Nagogo is the head of Zamfara State Peace and Reconciliation Initiative set up by Governor Alhaji Bello Mutawalle to negotiate “a complete ceasefire” between bandits and vigilante.