Governor Abubakar Bello of Niger has vowed to deal ruthlessly with traditional rulers and other local collaborators conniving with bandits to wreak havoc on innocent citizens in the state.
The governor stated this when he briefed State House correspondents after having a closed door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday in Aso Rock Villa.
According to him, the bandits are being invited by some locals to rob and kidnap innocent citizens in the state.
He revealed that already, some village heads had been apprehended by security agencies for aiding and abetting criminal activities, including kidnapping and banditry in the state.
“The bandits are being invited by some locals. In fact we have arrested some village heads. Now if a whole village head invites bandits or habours bandits, then where are we headed to? The village head is supposed to secure the village.
“So, we are going to be ruthless with any village head found wanting in this regard, because there is no way we can make progress if the traditional institution at the lowest level becomes part of it.
“`And I’m in discussions with the Emirs, First Class Emirs to dethrone or strip any village head of his appointment once being caught,’’ he said.
The governor, who vowed never to negotiate with bandits, said they had never been honest in their talks with constituted authorities.
“I cannot imagine myself as a state governor and chief security officer of a state, sitting down and negotiating with bandits.
“They have never been honest in their talks even when they were given the opportunity they failed to keep the agreement.
“And whenever they will surrender their arms and they don’t ask anything in return, then you can tell it is not an honest negotiation.
“Because, someone that is used to carrying arms to go and rob is now telling you he will drop his arms without asking for anything in return, I don’t think there is any sincerity in that.
“So, I have never subscribed to that type of negotiation. In any case, the bandits are mostly people that have no one to control them even their parents cannot control them.
“I tried it once reluctantly it never worked, so I don’t think…unless I see some evidence of sincerity but I am really not in such negotiations.’’
Bello, who said he updated President Buhari about the influx of bandits into Niger from neighbouring states, commended security officials for their efforts in checking the activities of criminals in the state.
“Recently, we have been experiencing influx of bandits from neighbouring states and even though our security agencies are doing their best, I found it necessary to update Mr President on the situation.
“So, we had a very fruitful discussion and also pledged more support to the state on security matters so that in the shortest possible time we will address the security situation,’’ he added.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that President Buhari had earlier met behind closed doors with Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi as well as Gov. Mai Mala Buni of Yobe at the State House.
The two governors declined to comment about the outcome of their meetings with the president.