Bello Matawalle, governor of Zamfara, justified the pardon given to repentant bandits in the state.
Matawalle said the gesture was “the best approach” to resolve Nigeria’s security issues, adding that it helped more than 1,000 people abducted by the bandits to recover their freedom.
Some areas of the North have been under assault by gangsters who threaten rural communities and ambush road travellers.
Zamfara is one of the hardest hit states facing the security threat.
As the situation continued to deteriorate, the state began to offer an amnesty to the bandits, forgiving as many as they are able to repent—a move that has been harshly criticised by many Nigerians.
Matawalle, speaking on Sunday’s Channels TV programme, defended the gesture, saying, “I can’t fold my arms to see that my people are killed every day.
“The Zamfara template is a focus on inviting various armed groups to subscribe to our non-kinetic approach of forgiveness, disarmament, de-mobilisation and re-integration of repentant bandits into the society.
“We consider this peace process as the best approach as large numbers of those participating in various crimes of kidnapping animals, banditry were pushed into these by circumstances such as reprisals and lawlessness of self-acclaimed vigilante groups.
“The Zamfara template is all about building a foundation upon which we hope the entire country will adopt as a sustainable means.”
He said as a result of the pardon granted to bandits, Zamfara “is not only calm” but “we have opened up a livelihood for our people as they have now gone back to their normal lives”.
“We have also secured the release of over 1,000 people without paying any ransom. We equally received over 300 sophisticated weapons surrendered by the repentant bandits and their gang leaders,” the governor said.
“We believe it is the best alternative to the present security situation facing our country.”