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Bandits insist Buhari must lead dialogue

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A group of bandits has blamed its campaign of crimes and terror on the supposed inability of President Muhammadu Buhari to solve the problems faced by their community, insisting that the president must physically come to dialogue with its members.

The group of bandits interviewed by Daily Trust also claimed it supported Buhari when he first became Nigeria’s president and that the president has not rewarded their gesture.

“We supported this administration and accepted dialogue because we thought Buhari will fix this country, but he won’t fix this country,” a masked bandit told Daily Trust.

“An agreement was reached, but you left that person in the forest with a gun and nothing to substitute. What do you expect? How do you want that person to survive? All the promises made to us none of it was fulfilled,” he said.

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The bandit further criticised Buhari for not having allocation in the budget for the nomadic communities.

“During Abacha, there was allocation in the budget for the nomadic communities. There was no such thing again since Obasanjo became president. They stopped looking after the Fulanis. Their forests and grazing areas were taken over,” he said.

The country has continued to see a spike in insecurity recently. In the past few months, bandits have been carrying out series of attacks and kidnappings in northern Nigeria.

Ahmad Gumi, a prominent Islamic cleric, had met with some of the bandits in the forests of Zamfara, appealing for peace.

But in an interview with Daily Trust, a masked bandit said if Buhari could travel around the country when he was campaigning, nothing should stop him from coming for peace talks.

“The president should personally come and preside over the talks. When he was campaigning, he travelled all over, why would he not do it now? He does not take these peace talks seriously and everyday people are being killed.

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“There is no day that someone is not killed between Zamfara, Niger, Kaduna, Sokoto and Katsina. There is no tribe that is spared, gunmen kill, soldiers kill, vigilantes kill. Whoever you see with a gun today in Nigeria, he uses it to kill people. You may not know but if I were to tell you the situation of things in this country, you will cry. Even the president will cry.”

The gangs who are driven by financial motives have no ideological leanings but security officials fear they are being infiltrated by jihadists from Nigeria’s northeast where the army is battling a decade-long Islamist insurgency.

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