Chief of Army Staff (CAOS), Lt. General Tukur Buratai, wednesday foreclosed dialogue with bandits, describing it as not a good military option for tackling banditry, kidnapping, and other heinous crimes currently bedeviling the North-west.
He also denied claims by some residents of North-west that Nigerien forces were coming into the Nigerian territory to fight bandits.
He described the rapprochement between the North-west governors and the marauding bandits as purely a political decision and administrative.
Buratai spoke at a press conference at Special Army Super Camp IV in Faskari Local Government Area of Katsina State as part of the week-long activities in commemoration of the 2020 Army Day celebration.
He explained that the mission of the Nigerian Army at this trying time is to fight bandits, insurgents, and other hoodlums launching deadly onslaughts on innocent citizens. He added that anything short of that would be prolonging insecurity.
Katsina State Governor, Alhaji Bello Masari, had granted amnesty to bandits after a tour of Fulani settlements and enclaves of the bandits in Rugu Forest in September 2019, during which the bandits and their forest commanders denounced banditry.
The peace accord was adopted by North-west governors following a peace summit convened in Katsina by the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, which facilitated discussions with representatives of the bandits from the affected states of Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Sokoto, Kaduna and Zamfara.
But Buratai said: “For now, a dialogue is not an option for us and is not on our table. It is absolutely a political decision. Our mission is to move into the bush and defeat the bandits tactically and anything short of that could only prolong the insecurity.
“We are determined to deal with them (bandits) in the bush even in towns and cities. They are moving everywhere and we will deal with them based on our capability, which we have developed with other security agencies.”
The army chief also denied insinuations making the rounds by some residents of Katsina State that Nigerian soldiers were not doing enough to tackle insecurity in the state.
“It is unfortunate that some politicians are politicising military operations. Some even say Nigerien forces are coming into our territory to fight bandits. All the allegations are false and you can quote me. We are a professional and responsible army. We will continue to defend our country,” Buratai added.
He assured the people that the military and other security agencies would continue to work assiduously towards ending bloodbath in some parts of the country to enhance peace and development.
“The Nigeria Army has performed creditably well in these areas and has contributed immensely to a peaceful and secured Nigeria through improved training and sustained professionally executed operations,” he stated.
He, however, said the army would concurrently distribute palliatives to vulnerable Nigerians across the 36 states of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to cushion the effects of COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of other activities lined up for the Army Day, he said there would be inauguration of special intervention projects executed by the army in the six geo-political zones of the country.