A group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has told Directorate of State Services (DSS) that the agency was not statutorily established to act as “national alarmist or town criers” but for ensuring the security of the nation.
HURIWA wondered why prominent northerners, including Katsina and Zamfara states governors and Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, Dr. Ahmed Gumi, have had an open interface with armed northern bandits but DSS is yet to arrest suppliers of those sophisticated weapons being displayed openly during such publicised parleys.
In a statement, HURIWA said: “We suspect that there are vested interests supplying these weapons of mass destruction to armed Fulani herders also known as armed Northern bandits who have taken control of most forests across the country. There may be a game plan to put pressure on the Federal Government to set up an amnesty office for the soon to be declared repentant bandits to take the shape of the Niger Delta Amnesty office to create jobs for the boys now well-armed.
“We wonder why DSS has yet to catch up with sponsors of these bandits but are often inundating the public space with irritating alarms as if it has become the ‘village town criers’. Is this why Nigerian public spend billions of public cash to maintain that once professionally excellent security institution? Please the DSS should be operated in line with the law setting it up so all the suppliers of weapons to armed non-state actors, especially the armed Fulani herders attacking communities in the country through the forests are arrested, prosecuted and sanctioned to save Nigeria from the imminent war of ethnicities”.
The human rights advocacy group recalled that Gumi, on Tuesday, visited some bandits in the forests of Shinkafi and Gummi local government areas of Zamfara State, even as the cleric was reported to have gone to another forest at Makkai, where he and his entourage met with more than 600 bandits with automatic rifles. Their top commander, one Kachalla Turji, welcomed the Sheikh.
The group, citing media report, said, like in Tubali, the bandits in Makkai expressed frustration at government attitude towards them.
Gumi was said to have told the bandits: “Let there be peace, you all have a legitimate concern and grievances. I believe that since the Niger Delta armed militants were integrated by the Federal Government and are even in the business of pipelines protection, the Federal Government should immediately look into how something like that will be done to the Fulani to provide them with reasonable means of livelihood, including jobs, working capitals, entrepreneurship training, building clinic and schooling.”
HURIWA, therefore, alleged there is more to it than meets the eyes if a detailed analysis of the interactions held between the Islamic cleric and the armed bandits are anything to go by. According to him, the texture of the conversations pointed directly to a grand conspiracy to blackmail Nigerians into buying into any future suggests that the government should set up an amnesty office for repentant armed bandits.
The group asserted that by virtue of National Security Agencies Act, it is totally irregular and unconstitutional that DSS will do nothing to arrest persons welding sophisticated weapons as politicians and Islamic clerics are photographed holding conversations with terrorists and armed non-state actors, who will then speak like persons being owed by Nigerians.