“I’m being vilified for what I didn’t say” – Zamfara gov reacts to ‘bandits aren’t criminals’ comment

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The Governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle, has denied saying that “not all bandits as criminals”, noting that the media quoted him out of context.

Matawalle stated this in a statement by his media aide, Zailani Bappa, following the controversy generated by the comment.

The governor made the comment during a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Thursday.

Matawalle stated that not all the bandits were criminals, explaining that many of them took up arms to avenge the injustices meted out to them by the military and local vigilante groups.

However, in a rebuttal on Friday, Bappa said, “A story carried by the Online medium, Premium Times today, quoted Governor Bello Mohammed (Matawallen Maradun) as saying that not all bandits are criminals.

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“Indeed, His Excellency was at the Presidential villa yesterday to brief Mr President on the security situation in the state. He also granted a short interview with the press crew at the villa.

“In that interview, he tried to make clear his known and popular view that not all FULANI are CRIMINALS. He went on to explain the injustices meted on them such as rustling their cattle as reasons that pushed them to criminality.

“If indeed he mentioned the word BANDITS instead of FULANI, then it was an inadvertent mistake as common sense dictates that banditry cannot at any time be justified as a non-criminality.

“We wish to call on all Nigerians who come across this story to disregard the message as that is not at all what His Excellency meant to say nor the kind of message he wanted to portray.”

Matawalle also shared a similar message via his Twitter page, backing it up with a video.

He wrote, “I was completely misquoted by the media and my statement was intentionally taken out of context, I’m being vilified for what I didn’t say.

“I said “ it’s not all Fulani’s are criminals”. I’m responsible for my statement whether I’m misquoted or not and I take full responsibility.”

Watch video:

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