By Sola Omoniyi, Lagos
The Christian Association of Nigeria has warned the Federal Government against negotiating with bandits and terrorists and granting them amnesty, saying it should stop playing politics.
CAN said if the Nigerian state was so helpless and could not fight terrorism, it should look for help elsewhere.
While describing them as enemies of the state, the Christian body said banditry and kidnapping had become big business while the government had allowed it to continue for a long time.
CAN Secretary, North-West Zone, Sunday Oibe, issued the warning in an interview with Newsmen on Sunday
According to him, the FG should be careful with the so-called negotiators who have seen an opportunity to “make more money.”
He was reacting to recent reports that some officials of the FG were negotiating with bandits in Zamfara State, although the state government has kicked against it.
Oibe was also asked if CAN would support such discussions or amnesty for bandits and if such measures would stop banditry.
He said, “It’s shameful and disgusting for the Nigerian state to keep doing this to us as a people. We have been hearing the expression, ‘unknown gunmen’ did this and that over and over again. Suddenly, the unknown gunmen are now known to the point that the federal might is even allowing some of its officials to enter into negotiation with the bandits.
“As long as we keep living in denial, this problem shall remain unsolved. There’s nothing like bandits or unknown gunmen. This is an organised crime against the rest of us who are helpless. The successive governments know them, hire them, empower them and are using them against the rest of us.
“Are we saying that the Nigerian state is so helpless to win the war against these enemies of the state? If we as a nation have become so helpless, let us stomach our pride by seeking help elsewhere. This war must stop and the time is now. I don’t subscribe to the idea of negotiating with criminals and the enemies of the state. The government knows what to do and should stop playing games.
“There was a governor of APC extraction who told the entire world how they had paid this same group of people under the last administration of Muhammadu Buhari. The question is, why didn’t they stop harassing innocent citizens? After collecting money as alleged by the said governor at a time and they refused to stop causing pain to innocent citizens, why didn’t the Nigerian state go after them?
“Lastly, we want to know who are these alleged government officials that know these bandits and are willing to enter into negotiation with them. Banditry and kidnapping have become a big business and the government has allowed this nonsense for long. Do you know how many families have been plundered into emotional and financial penury because of these evil non-state actors?”
The secretary added, “Negotiation is not the answer but rather, demonstration of political will to root out these criminals from the very root is the solution. The DSS, NIA, Police, etc know the source (s) and are willing to work if given the free hand to do so. Nigerian soldiers who were used to dancing the piton dance elsewhere are capable of rooting out those evil people if given the right motivation and go ahead.
“How do you justify going into negotiation with those that killed your country’s security personnel with impunity leaving their wives as widows and children as orphans? The Federal Government should be careful with the so-called negotiators who have seen the opportunity to make more money.”