Over 500 bandits have agreed to lay down their arms after a peace deal that was struck by Ahmad Gumi, a prominent Islamic cleric, Desert Herald is reporting.
The bandits are said to be those terrorising Zaria-Giwa roads as well as Birnin Gwari area in Kaduna state.
The cleric reportedly held a preaching session in Sabon Garin Yadi, a remote area in Giwa local government area of Kaduna.
Many reportedly gathered to listen to what Gumi had to say in the area which has large Fulani settlements.
Gumi’s “carrot approach” and “confidence building” has the backing of the federal government and the police, the online publication said.
“Virtually all the top armed commanders were freely given the chance to address the session with almost all of them lamenting the condition they were subjected to and expressed the frustrations that led them into kidnapping and banditry,” the report said.
“Most of them were unanimous in their submissions. They told Sheikh Gumi and CP Umar Muri that they were forced into taking up arms. They said over the years they were subjected to constant humiliation, harassment, arbitrary arrests, extortion and even killings of innocent ones by law enforcement agents.
“They lamented that security personnel have killed many of their family members with many of them losing virtually all their possessions through cattle rustling, extortion by security agents and through military bombardments. As a result they lamented that thousands of their youths do not have anything to do and there is no means of livelihood hence their decision to go into arms struggle.
“They also complained of lack of government’s presence and the absence of basic necessities like water, schools, clinics etc in all their localities and vowed that as long as government and the society did not change their attitudes towards them, there will never be peace.
“They accused the government of not being sincere in ending instances of banditry and kidnappings.”
While noting their concerns, Gumi reportedly told them to be patient.
The cleric asked them to stop acts of crime as he would make a case for them when he meets with President Muhammadu Buhari.
Commanders of the militia reportedly promised to cease hostilities and pledged to work with the cleric.