Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has condemned the federal government’s dialogue with terrorists in Zamfara State, saying it makes the government a terrorist sympathizer.
The group, which made the condemnation in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, on Friday, October 6, 2023, said the dialogue with terrorists who have proven cases of bloodletting, attacks, kidnappings of female students, and mass killings by Fulani armed insurgents in the North-west was a betrayal of the Nigerian people and a violation of their human rights.
HURIWA also accused the federal government of double speak and lack of transparency on how best to end the insecurity in the region.
The statement came after the Zamfara State Governor, Dauda Lawal, alleged that the federal government was negotiating with terrorists in the state without his knowledge.
Mr. Lawal, a member of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), has been critical of negotiating with terrorists.
He said he has reports that negotiations were being carried out with some terrorists in various local government areas in Zamfara State.
The governor called for a comprehensive investigation into what he calls “secretive” negotiations held with bandits in the state.
“Reports indicated that a delegation allegedly sent by some agencies of the Federal Government has been holding talks with bandit groups in Zamfara without the knowledge of the State Government,” the Governor said, according to a statement by his spokesperson, Sulaiman Idris.
He lamented the action of some federal government agencies engaged in negotiations with bandits without recourse to the state government and other security agencies.
“Governor Dauda Lawal wishes to call on the Federal Government to clarify and investigate the actions of some unscrupulous elements sabotaging the ongoing fight against banditry in Zamfara.
“The Zamfara State Government has received reports of how some Federal Government delegation met with different bandit groups in Birnin Magaji, Maradun, Munhaye, Ajah, Bawo, and Bagege.
“Previous administrations in the State failed to achieve positive outcomes in their attempts to engage in dialogue with bandits. We must learn from these past mistakes and adopt a new approach to restore peace in Zamfara,” Mr. Idris said.
The Governor’s spokesperson reiterated Mr. Lawal’s stand that his administration would not negotiate with terrorists.
“Ensuring the fight against banditry is a top priority of Zamfara State Government, and we cannot afford to make any compromises in our efforts. We urge the Federal Government to take swift action by terminating the ongoing negotiations with the bandits in Zamfara, as it undermines progress so far made,” he added.
Bello Matawalle, the immediate former governor, who was defeated by Mr. Lawal, is the current Minister of state for defence. He belongs to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Matawalle championed peace deals and negotiations with terrorists while he was governor of the state from 2019 to 2023.
Abdulaziz Yari, Mr. Matawalle’s predecessor, also had a peace dialogue with terrorists when he was the Governor.
The North-west has been witnessing a series of terrorist activities leading to the death of hundreds of people and displacement of millions of others.
The group urged the federal government to come clean and stop playing politics with the lives and security of Nigerians.
They also called on the international community and human rights organisations to intervene and hold the federal government accountable for its actions and inactions that have worsened the security situation in Nigeria.