SEVERAL bandit leaders in Zamfara State have agreed to lay down their weapons and embrace a peace deal presented by Governor Bello Matawalle following the recent visit of Islamic cleric Sheikh Abubakar Gumi.
Last week, in a bit to resolve what appears to be an endless crisis, Sheikh Gumi, travelled from his base in Kaduna to Zamfara State to meet with the bandits. Over recent years, heavily-armed bandits have been terrorising the northwest geo-political zone, controlling large swathes of territory, particularly in Zamfara and Katsina states.
Powerless to stop them, both state governors have been forced to enter into dialogue with these bandits and even offer them money to lay down their arms. So far, however, every agreement entered into has broken down, leaving both states at the mercy of bandits who attack villages and towns with impunity.
Sheikh Gumi, who met with bandit leaders Kachalla Turji and Kachalla Muhammadu Bello in Makkai Forest, said that what is currently happening in Zamfara State is insurgency and not banditry. After meeting with the bandit leaders, the cleric met with Governor Matawalle to brief him on the situation.
After what appears to be about a week of negotiations, the bandits have now agreed to accept Governor Matawalle’s peace deal. Notorious gun runner and assassin Auwalun Daudawa and his group have surrendered 20 AK47 rifles and five more dangerous weapons to the governor, who in turn has handed them over to the state police commissioner.
At a brief ceremony in Government House, Mr Daudawa handed over the weapons swearing on the Holy Quran not to revert to their old ways of life. He said he is no longer interested in going back to the bush, requesting that Governor Matawalle should allow him to stay in Gusau and go back to school.
Mr Daudawa said “I am not surrendering these weapons out of fear of anything but for the belief that Governor Matawalle is sincere in his peace deal and that I and my team are tired of our old criminal ways. In all the battles and conflicts so far, I have never feared anything nor got wounded even once, so I thank God that I am liberated by His mercy and I ask for forgiveness from the society.”
Responding, Governor Matawalle commended the courage of Mr Daudawa for embracing the peace along with all his team. He promised that his administration will never renege on its promise to honour all the terms agreed in the peace deal and will continue to woo others in the bush until there is no more bandits remaining in the state.