Northern leaders wrong to ask amnesty for bandits, terrorists, says Clark

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An elder statesman and an Ijaw leader, Edwin Clark, has advised President Bola Tinubu to disregard comments from some uninformed Nigerians that the amnesty programme in the Niger Delta has not contributed to peace in the region.

Clark, who gave this advice at a press briefing, in Abuja, yesterday, spoke against the backdrop of calls for amnesty for bandits and terrorists by northern leaders, as well as apologists, equating it with the amnesty granted by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua for Niger Delta militants.

Clark, who gave this advice at a press briefing, in Abuja, yesterday, spoke against the backdrop of calls for amnesty for bandits and terrorists by northern leaders, as well as apologists, equating it with the amnesty granted by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua for Niger Delta militants.

According to Clark, the call for amnesty for bandits is not only obnoxious, but criminal. He said former Governor of Zamfara State, Ahmad Yerima, and Ahmad Gumi, an Islamic cleric, who called for amnesty for bandits, were merely confusing two contemporary security issues, fight for resources in the Niger Delta and blatant criminality by bandits in the North.

He said the cleric’s constant claim that bandits kill because of ‘maltreatment’ by the Nigerian State defies logic. Clark said: “They also mistake amnesty for a blanket idea to be politicised or invoked to reward mass murderers. It is not.

“Amnesty worked in the Niger Delta primarily because its militants anchored their fight on sound economic and federalist principles of resource control.

“With their people alienated from the oil wealth extracted from their land, and environmental degradation in the region, the agitators had legitimate demands.

“But the blood-thirsty bandits ravaging the North have no legitimate, political or economic claim that Nigeria is obliged to countenance. Because of bandits, killer Fulani herdsmen, Boko Haram/Islamic State of West Africa (ISWAP) and Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the 2023 Global Terrorism Index ranked Nigeria as the eighth most terrorised country in the world.

“Together, these terrorist groups slaughtered 63,111 Nigerians between 2015 and May 2023, the National Security Tracker estimated. Therefore, any deal with them translates to rewarding mindless criminality.

“As some North-West states discovered, negotiating with amorphous groups of bandits with no central command or leadership has no positive outcome.”

He, however, commended the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF) for its forthrightness in condemning Yerima’s advice to the President.