Negotiate with bandits, Matawalle tells Gov Bello

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The Zamfara Governor, Bello Matawalle has told his Niger State counterpart, Abubakar Bello, to negotiate with bandits in order to secure the release of students and teachers that were abducted on Wednesday.

He made the remark after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House on Wednesday.

Noting that he inherited banditry from the previous administration, Matawalle said negotiation was not a sign of weakness but part of peace efforts because he realised not all bandits were criminals.

“It had been there for almost eight years before I came. Following the dialogue I initiated with the bandits, Zamfara is now very calm”, NAN quoted him as saying.

“I have advised the Governor of Niger to meet with all stakeholders and find out the root cause of the crisis so as to initiate dialogue and ensure reconciliation. That is the only way to achieve what I have been able to achieve in my State.

“Most of the criminals that caused trouble in Zamfara were not from my State. Two months ago, we had some repentant bandits who surrendered their weapons. One was from Yobe, two from Kaduna, two from Niger; so, you see, it is a gang.”

Matawalle confirmed talks were still ongoing with Bello concerning his state as the governor was following steps for peace to bring an end to the clashes soon.

Meanwhile, Governor Bello of Niger State has insisted that he will not pay ransom to bandits as it was not a policy of his government because they will use the money to buy weapons for more attacks.

About 27 students, three staff and 12 members of a family were abducted at the Government Science College, Kagara in Rafi Local Government of Niger State.

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