The Secretary to the Government of Niger State (SSG), Ahmed Ibrahim Matane, has appealed to bandits across the state to lay down their arms and embrace dialogue for peace to prevail.
Matane disclosed this in a statement signed by his media aide, Lawal Tanko, on Friday.
The statement said the SSG made the appeal during a meeting with bandits on Thursday.
Matane was said to have accompanied popular Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmed Gumi to strike a dialogue for the release of all abducted victims in the state among other reasons.
Recall that suspected bandits were said to have carried out the attacks on Government Science College Kagara and some communities in Shiroro Local Government Area. About 27 students were reportedly among those kidnapped.
Speaking to the bandits at their meeting point in Dutsen Magaji, Mariga Local Government Area of the Niger, the SSG called on other criminal elements to join in the peace dialogue process.
“In furtherance to the peace dialogue, Ahmed Matane enjoined the Commanders to support Government secure the release of the abducted Passengers of Niger State Transport Authorit and Students of Government Science College, Kagara, adding the unfortunate incidents in recent days call for sober reflection,” he said.
He stressed the need for people to collaborate with the government in its determination to rid the state of criminal activities.
“The SSG stressed the need for religious leaders and other stakeholders to embark on how to get the bandits, kidnappers, and cattle rustlers to key into the peace initiatives of the Government,” the statement said.
On his part, Gumi expressed optimism that dialoguing with the bandits would put an end to the current insecurity in the state and country at large.
Gumi reminded the hoodlums that Islam was against taking the lives of innocent people and appealed to them to embrace peace by laying down their arms.
He also assured them that he would continue to discuss with the state government to explore whatever assistance and support they would give to them to achieve the set objectives.
Meanwhile, the bandits appealed to the state government to assist in the release of their members arrested and detained by security agencies across the state for the peace process to thrive.
A highlight of the meeting was the distribution of Islamic books to the bandits by Gumi to teach them the doctrine of Islam.