Bandits deserve sympathy – Zamfara governor

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Governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle says Nigerians should be more sympathetic towards bandits because many of them were forced into criminality.

The governor spoke while briefing reporters at the Government House in the state capital, Gusau Thursday morning.

Zamfara is regarded as the epicentre of banditry in Northern Nigeria.

According to Matawalle, constant harassment from the Nigerian Army and local vigilante groups forced the bandits into taking up arms.

“Not all of them are criminals. If you investigate what is happening, and what made them take the laws into their hands, some of them, sometimes were cheated by so-called the vigilante group.

“They normally go to their settlements and destroy property and take their animals. They did not have anyone to speak with, so sometimes, they go for revenge. When the vigilante group attacks them, they go for reprisals. That’s exactly what happened,” the governor said.

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Matawalle added, “Some of them are living in settlements close to villages or towns. When there are military operations, the military will go and destroy their property and animals.

“They are angry with such actions sometimes. If you are talking to them, you can understand where they are coming from and their problems.”

The governor said it was unwise to write off the bandits as mere criminals, urging political leaders to explore dialogue as a strategy to bring an end to the menace of banditry.

Matawalle stated, “It is important for us as leaders to sit down with them and understand what is the genesis.

“You can’t just conclude that this person is a criminal. You have to listen to him. What led him to go into such activities?”

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