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FLASHBACK: How Zamfara gov rewarded repentant bandits — before Jangebe abductions

FLASHBACK: How Zamfara gov rewarded repentant bandits — before Jangebe abductions
February 26
13:32 2021

Zamfara is back in the news — and for a bad reason.

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On Friday, bandits attacked Government Girls Secondary School in Jangebe, Talata-Mafara local government area of Zamfara, and reportedly abducted hundreds of students.

The development took many by surprise considering how the state government has embraced bandits who are willing to repent and lay down their arms.

In Zamfara, there is a common saying among residents that “you are more likely to get faster pardon as a repentant bandit than as a robber.”

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Since Bello Matawalle became the state governor in 2019, he has not minced words on how he prefers holding talks with bandits in a bid to end the killings.

In fact, he believes bringing them to the table is the best way to end banditry.

Two weeks ago, the governor was quoted to have said: “I have been saying the best solution and option to tackle banditry is to seek for dialogue with the bandits.

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“If really we want to end this banditry activity, we have to sit at a roundtable and negotiate, because, through dialogue and reconciliation, we were able to secure the release of many people who were under the captivity of kidnappers. So, the best way out for my colleagues, governors, is for them to subscribe to dialogue.”

Recently, he restated his position on the ”carrot approach” and claimed that many bandits “were pushed into these by circumstances such as reprisals and lawlessness of self-acclaimed vigilante groups”.

The governor has pardoned and rewarded repentant bandits to discourage them from crime. 

In 2020, he offered bandits two cows in exchange for one AK-47 rifle surrendered.

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“For every rifle submitted by a repentant bandit, there would be compensation of two cows. We don’t want to give them money, so they wouldn’t use the money to purchase new weapons,” he had said.

The irony is that Friday’s attack happened just 72 hours after the governor received three bandits, including one of their leaders after they “surrendered their weapons and took an oath never to engage in banditry again”. 

What then changed?

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