The Niger State Government has appealed to bandits across the state to lay down their arms and embrace dialogue for peace to reign.
In a statement issued by Tanko Lawal, Information Officer to the Secretary to the Government of Niger State, Alhaji Ahmed Matane, on Friday, the state government told the bandits to surrender their arms.
Matane, who was part of the Sheikh Abubakar Gumi delegation, made the plea in Dutsen Magaji, Mariga Local Government Area of the state while addressing bandits and their commanders terrorizing the state.
Matane, who was in company with the renowned Kaduna-based Islamic scholar, Gumi, called on other criminal elements, including kidnappers and cattle rustlers, to join in the peace dialogue to put an end to the security challenges bedeviling the state.
He enjoined the gang leaders to support the government in securing the release of the abducted pupils and workers of Government Science College, Kagara, as well as about 20 passengers of Niger State Transport Authority kidnapped on Sunday.
“ The unfortunate incidents in recent days called for a sober reflection, ” the SSG added.
Some of the bandit commanders in their separate remarks applauded the state government for the peace process, stressing that it would go a long way in restoring peace across the state.
They appealed to the government to assist with the release of their members arrested by security agencies and detained across the state for the peace process to thrive.
The highlight of the occasion was the distribution of Islamic books to the bandits by Gumi to teach them the doctrine of Islam.
Meanwhile, Governor Abubakar Bello of Niger State said that the government was interfacing with security agencies, community leaders, and relevant people to ensure the safe release of the kidnapped students, staff, and family members of the school as well as the NSTA bus passengers.
The governor stated this on Friday when he gave an update on the abduction at the Government House, Minna.
Bello appealed to the parents of the pupils and the people of the state to remain calm, assuring them that the government was making frantic efforts to ensure the release of the students and other people.
He said, “ I want to assure you that we are doing everything we can. We are interfacing with the local communities, federal authorities, and our state authorities to ensure that we recover the victims safely.
“ Our utmost priority right now is to make sure we bring them back home safely, and that is exactly what we are going to do. ”