Katsina amnesty programme: Revolutionising agriculture

By Hamidu Sabo

Th e repentance recently of over 1,500 cattle rustlers and bandits that have for almost a decade been giving sleepless nights to Katsina state government and security operatives in the state is a positive development to Katsina people in particular and Nigerians in general. Th e cattle rustlers and bandits, who renounced banditry in all its facets, have tendered all their sophisticated weapons including 104 AK47 riffl es, 361 Dane guns and ammunitions to the authorities in the state.

Th is was done under the laudable amnesty programme initiated by Governor Aminu Bello Masari. Th ree months after its inception, the Governor Aminu Bello Masari-led administration in Katsina state received series of advice from diff erent stakeholders on the need for dialogue with cattle rustlers and bandits in order to address the security threats they constitute for the state and its people. Consequently, the governor constituted a Dialogue Committee under the leadership of the Secretary to the State Government, Mustapha Inuwa. Th e committee is made of the army, the police, the Nigeria Civil Defence Corps, civil society groups and other stakeholders.

In the course of carrying out its functions, the committee instituted an amnesty programme for the cattle rustlers and bandits who were ready to denounce violence and other vices. As part of the programme, the Katsina State Government ordered the release of some of those arrested by security operatives and their belongings. Th e intense dialogue and constant engagement of the cattle rustlers and bandits by the Inuwa-led committee brought to an end the almost-a-decade nefarious operations in Safana, Batsari, Faskari and Sabuwa, among other areas invaded by the cattle

. rustlers and bandits, were brought to an end. Embodied in the amnesty programme was the recovery of 28,170 cows from the bandits, 24,000 of which were handed over to their rightful owners, over 3,000 were reportedly dead while 90 others are in the custody because they have not been claimed by the owners Th e programme also off ered to repentant cattle rustlers and bandits to make special request for the state government to assist them with health facilities, schools, water reservoirs or dams for both human and animal use and grazing lands for their cattle, among others. Th ese, according to them, would improve their living standard. Th ey also stressed the need for the Masari administration to open up the rural communities through provision road networks as, according to them, past governments in the state have abandoned their communities and the people left in squalor, misery, hunger, disease and ignorance. Th e repentant cattle rustlers and bandits assured government of their unalloyed loyalty, support and cooperation, and promised to deal decisively with those who torment innocent citizens by combing the forests to fi sh out deviant members. Th e beauty of the amnesty programme for the cattle rustlers is that it has resulted in the improvement of agricultural productivity across the state, especially in the 10 aff ected local government areas. Farmers and pastoralists have returned to agricultural activities while commercial activities have also resumed with a positive impacts on the economy of the state.

Th e successes recorded by the Inuwa-led committee excite Governor Masari. In an interview with our correspondent, the governor expressed delight with the renouncement of banditry by the cattle rustlers and bandits, and reiterated his administration’s commitment to ensuring adequate provision of basic amenities to all nooks and crannies of the state aimed at raising the living standard of the people. He said the development was a turning point in his administration’s drive to provide security of lives and property, stressing that with the renouncement of banditry in the state, people will now carry out their legitimate activities without fear of molestation.

“Government and good people of Katsina state are happy with this development of renouncing banditry in the state. I, therefore, commend the renouncers of the dastardly acts while assuring them that this government will be fair, just, and equitable to all citizens in its dealings,” he said. He called on the people of Katsina state to cooperate and interact with the repentant cattle rustlers, saying that as citizens of the state, government has a responsibility to provide them with basic necessities of life, hence the need for the people to embrace and forgive one another for peaceful co-existence, harmony and rapid socioeconomic development of the state. Th e governor, who commended members of the dialogue committee for. Job well done, assured that government’s doors would remain open for suggestions, as it continues to recover more arms from other dissenters if any.

 

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