Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara says repentant bandits played a vital role in the release of the over 200 Jangebe schoolgirls recently abducted by bandits in the state.
The governor said on Wednesday that the repentant bandits joined the military to go rescue the kidnapped girls.
He said the repentant bandits held talks with their unrepentant counterparts and were able to secure the release of the students and returned the girls to the waiting security operatives.
Matawalle spoke while featuring on Channels Television’s Politics Today.
“Zamfara has a very vast area and we have borders with different states like Niger, Kebbi, Kaduna, Sokoto, and Katsina. When it (the abduction) happened, I spoke with the security agents and they went together with the repentant bandits to the place the abductors promised to bring the children.
“We provided vehicles with all the security –the Army, the Police, the Air Force, and everyone to go along with those guys (repentant bandits) and they (security agents) remained in one of the areas called Bingi. So, the repentant ones brought them to the security agents to convey them from there to the state capital,” the governor stated.
According to the governor, the peace accord struck with bandits who have chosen to repent is paying off in Zamfara State.
“No matter how people may see the peace, dialogue, and reconciliation efforts as unnecessary, to me it is very important,” Matawalle stated.
He further noted that former bandits in Zamfara State are tired of indulging in criminal activities.
Reacting to claims that the govt paid a ransom to secure the release of the Jangebe Girls, Governor Matawalle said there was no truth to the assertions.
“There is nothing in exchange for the release,” the governor stated.
When asked how he felt about the release of the schoolgirls, the governor said he was extremely happy with the release of the students.
The Zamfara Governor said: “I am very happy with the situation; I can’t measure how happy I was at that moment. On that very day, I did not sleep because they left Gusau around 11 am in the morning to the area where the children were kept.
“They did not come back to the state capital till after 4 am in the morning where we were all waiting for them in the Government House.”