About 600 bandits and their commanders who have been terrorising communities in Kaduna State, have agreed to lay down their arms and embrace peace.
The bandits announced the decision after a meeting with Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, and the state commissioner of police, Umar Muri, in a forest in Sabon Garin Yadi, Giwa Local Government Area of the state.
It was gathered that Gumi had preached to the bandits and pleaded with them to allow peace to reign.
Consequently, they promised to cease hostilities in Zaria, Giwa, and the Kaduna-Birnin Gwari highway.
However, they warned that they would return to their old ways should security agents continue to harass their families and destroy their belongings.
They also vowed to go back to the forests should the government fail to fulfill their own part of the peace deal, details of which were not made public.
The bandits gave rustling of their cattle, incessant harassment by security operatives and neglect by the government as reasons for resorting to criminalities.
Their commanders were quoted as saying that over the years, they were subjected to arbitrary arrests, extortion, and even killings of their kinsmen by law enforcement agents.
“Thousands of our youths do not have anything to do, hence the decision to go into the forest.
“We also lack government’s presence. We don’t have basic necessities like water, schools, clinics and others in all our localities, so we felt that, as long as government and the society do not change their attitude towards us, there will never be peace.” one of the commanders said.
Gumi, who quoted verses of the Quran during his preaching, said it was the first time he would hear directly about their predicament.
He also promised to see President Muhammadu Buhari on the issues raised by the bandits.
He made a cash donation of N500,000 and distributed clothes and copies of Islamic books to them.
Muri, who represented Mohammed Adamu, the Inspector General of Police at the parley, assured the bandits that he would deliver their message to the police authorities in Abuja.