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Amnesty for bandits, terrorists has failed, says COAS

Lagbaja also acknowledged the complexities of the crises in Kaduna and Plateau but affirmed the military’s determination to stem insecurity, especially with the cooperation of the stakeholders in the states

By Musa Umar Bologi, Abuja,Faith Yahaya, Abuja,AbdulGafar Alabelewe, KadunaandKolade Adeyemi, Jos

The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Maj.-Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, yesterday passed his verdict on the amnesty programme for bandits and terrorists in Zamfara and other Northwest: it has failed.

Lagbaja also acknowledged the complexities of the crises in Kaduna and Plateau but affirmed the military’s determination to stem insecurity, especially with the cooperation of the stakeholders in the states.

Lagbaja spoke in separate meetings with the governors of Zamfara, Kaduna and Plateau in Abuja.

While hosting Governor Dauda Lawal of Zamfara, the COAS said apart from failing to achieve its purpose, the amnesty programme also allowed criminals to regroup, reorganise and attack defenceless citizens.

He said: “We also have the issue of the amnesty programme that has been instituted, and which has failed not only in Zamfara but in so many other states of the Northwest.

“So, I think we need to look at this issue of the amnesty programme because the criminal elements have proven to be incorrigible.

“The issue of amnesty has created an avenue for them to regroup and reorganise to launch attacks on our defenceless citizens. So I think we need to look at that,” he said.

The COAS said he had directed the deployment of more platforms and the release of funds to reactivate unserviceable platforms to boost troops’ operations in the state.

According to him, the Zamfara crisis was a mix of farmer-herder clashes, ethnic confrontations and the quest for economic empowerment driven by mining activities.

He assured that the Army was determined to tackle the security challenges in the state.

“We will not have a situation where some people constitute themselves into outlaws and just go into communities and kill children and defenceless women.

“By working on this with the state government and other critical stakeholders we can eliminate these outlaws and reduce the insecurities by a significant percentage.

Earlier, Lawal said Zamfara had been facing very challenging security threats and appealed for the army’s support army to address it.

He commended the efforts of the troops in restoring peace in the state and called for the deployment of more military wares to support military operations.

The COAS also addressed the perennial crisis bedevilling Plateau, saying the military had put measures in place to end it, including going after all outlaws bearing illicit arms.

He spoke when Plateau State Governor, Caleb Muftwang visited him.

Lagbaja blamed much of the security challenge in Plateau on the farmers-herders crisis, noting that it had been limited to three local governments of Riyom, Jos South and Barkin Ladi.

According to him, the recent crisis in Mangu was a cause for concern to the army, and President Bola Tinubu.

“We have taken some measures and we believe those measures will yield the desired results quickly.

“We are still receiving reports from the field to see other areas of intervention that can bring lasting peace to the troubled local governments and even the entire Plateau,” he said.

Lagbaja urged the governor to convene an expanded stakeholder meeting to let them ‘jaw-jaw’ rather than ‘war-war’.

The COAS said that there was also the need to properly organise the state-controlled security outfit to avoid working at cross purposes, in the overall interest of the state.

He advised the governor to consider the report of all previous Commissions of Inquiry on the crisis to see what issues had been addressed and those not addressed.

Muftwang expressed confidence that Nigerians were hoping that the Nigerian Army under Lagbaja would meet their expectations and bring about lasting peace in the country.

In the meeting with Kaduna State Governor Uba Sani at the Army Headquarters, Abuja, the COAS said the military was doing a lot to entrench peace and stability in Southern Kaduna and other conflict areas across the country.

Lagbaja said the security situation in Southern Kaduna was multifaceted, hence the need for all hands to be on deck to overcome the security challenges.

The COAS said: “The security threats in Southern Kaduna are complex considering there is a mix of the farmers-headers crisis and ethnic animosity and other variables and it is when there is a perfect balance of the people, the government and the military that we can bring peace and stability to our community.

Commending him, Governor Sani noted that peace had largely returned to Southern Kaduna where the COAS personally led the battle against banditry and terrorism when he was the GOC.

He urged the COAS to scale up the effort, assuring that the state government would continue to give the Nigerian army and the military in general, all the needed support to be able to succeed.

The Nation

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