Written by Omeiza Ajayi – Abuja
Amid a growing wave of robbery and other crimes in some parts of the north, Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello reiterated his earlier stance of not negotiating with criminal elements, saying recent history has shown that criminal gangs often use such an official gesture to wreak havoc as a result. illusions that the government was negotiating outside a place of weakness.
Bello spoke on Wednesday in Abuja during a breakfast show on national television watched by our correspondent.
The governor cited a case where a criminal gang was offered amnesty in the state of Nasarawa after the intervention of top politicians, complaining that the group, however, withdrew its agreement with the government because its members continued to terrorize the people.
“When we went to a meeting in the state of Nasarawa, it was said that some bandits had repented and that we should pardon them. I said I would never negotiate with bandits or criminals.
“Not later than two weeks, the head of these bandits that I saw with my naked eyes and his lieutenants went wild again, kidnapping, killing and maiming our people,” he said.
He stressed that tackling security challenges of any kind requires strong political will, and the steps his administration has taken in a security-damaged country have been recklessly confronting perpetrators and their sponsors.
Governor Bello added that security is not only the responsibility of the Nigerian military, police and other security operatives, but must also instill community ownership to facilitate people’s trust and active participation in their own security and safety, especially in intelligence sharing.
He said; “What we did in Kogi State was to ensure that citizens have a security architecture and work with defense, security and intelligence by giving them information.”
According to Bell, the decision of the North Central Governors’ Forum to establish military barracks at burning sites within their states sought to further strengthen the region’s existing efficient security architecture, adding that such barracks would be a designated training place for military operatives from which special forces could easily deploy for operations.
The governor said it was common practice for politicians who sought political offices to hire the services of bullies to help intimidate their opposition, adding that employers often left those people when the political season ended.
Vanguard News Nigeria