Governor of Katsina State, Aminu Masari has kicked against the amnesty call for bandits being championed by an Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmed Gumi.
Mr Masari said the cleric should preach the implications of killing innocent people and not call for amnesty for bandits who he described as criminals and enemies of the country.
The governor who had an interview with THISDAY over the weekend explained that majority of the herders living in adjoining forests in Katsina and other neighbouring states in the region were bandits and that government should treat them as criminals.
Apparently being irked by Gumi’s constants pleas to the government to give bandits blanket amnesty, Mr Masari said the cleric should channel his energy towards educating the criminals to change for the better.
“Amnesty for who? Look Gumi is doing it in 2021, we did it in 2016. At least there is something to learn from us. When we started the dialogue in 2016, 95 per cent of the herders living in the forest were not criminals but what is the situation today? Majority of the herders living in the forest today are bandits.
“Gumi should have been preaching to them on the fear of God; to understand the implications of killing somebody but certainly not amnesty because even animals are not allowed to be killed unjustly let alone human beings. He should also let the bandits know the value of their own religion,” he said.
Masari lamented that some bandits who accepted amnesty betrayed his government and became enemies of the state, and that they were among those fuelling insecurity in Katsina and other states within the North-west zone.
He vowed not to grant amnesty to bandits again, adding that his government was betrayed on two occasions after they were granted a pardon in 2016 and 2019.
He said further:
“For me, I am not surprised because I did it before, twice, so what they (bandits) are telling Gumi is not new to me. They said it and they will continue to say it but concretely they are not promoting any ideology.
“Are we all happy in Nigeria? Does it mean those who are unhappy would take arms against other people? They (bandits) kept on saying they are being marginalised, how many people are marginalised and neglected in Nigeria today? Look my friend, a thief is a thief and a criminal is a criminal. They are criminally- minded and can’t justify killing innocent souls.”