President Muhammadu Buhari has given bandits operating in forests in the north a 60-day ultimatum to surrender their arms.
The Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle, who disclosed this in a state-wide broadcast on Tuesday, March 9, explained further that the bandits are to drop their weapons and surrender themselves to their various state governments.
According to Daily Trust, Buhari has also ordered the deployment of additional 6,000 troops to the state to crush the bandits if they fail to surrender.
Matawalle said the call for the bandits to give up their arms was part of resolutions made known to him by President Buhari in their recent meeting in Abuja.
Matawalle said in the broadcast:
“In my discussion with President Muhammadu Buhari and the security higher command in Abuja, it was resolved that 6,000 additional troops will be deployed to complement the effort of other security forces in tackling the security challenges in the state.
“The president has agreed to a time frame within which the recalcitrant bandits should surrender their weapons and key into our peace initiative. The peace deal initiated by my administration has recorded successes including the disarmament, securing the release of hundreds of kidnapped persons, reopening of markets and the resumption of other economic activities across the state.
“Even though we are enjoying relative peace as a result of this dialogue and reconciliation programme, some armed bandits have refused to key into the programme and they have sustained their attacks on our communities. The government has equally observed that there is sabotage by some unscrupulous elements within and outside the state,”
Speaking further, the state governor commended the President for his efforts, adding that the troops will soon arrive in the state for their operations.
Meanwhile, the pronouncement of the 60-day ultimatum has generated a lot of reaction from the public with some seeing it as giving room for the bandits to commit even more crimes while others see the move as cowardly. Yet some others believe it is a step in the right direction.
A Lagos resident, Cyril Afama, while speaking with Daily Post, said,
“For me, the President has only given the bandits in Zamfara forests a window of opportunity to continue to kill, maim, abduct and destroy people’s property. That’s the way I see it. Why the ultimatum? Do you need the two months to plan your own strategies or the troops you have deployed are going to be imported from Mars?
“I can bet that the ultimatum, has more than ever projected the President as either complicit in the whole thing or that he is a weak leader who does not have what it takes to be decisive on matters challenging the country’s corporate existence. I also see a situation where the bandits will see him as weak, a situation that must have emboldened them by now.
“Effective leaders are known by the decisions they make, their strategic nature and the ability to take risky ones in very precarious circumstances but for the good of all. Unfortunately, the President has failed to stand up to be counted in that league’,
It will however be recalled that the President had initially stated that he will not negotiate with criminals and had vowed to deal with them.