Niger State Governor Abubakar Bello on Saturday pardoned 13 bandits after the state government signed a peace pact with the hoodlums as part of efforts to stop bloodletting in the state.

Bello disclosed this while delivering a keynote address at the 2nd General Abdulsalami Abubakar Foundation Annual Peace Lecture on Saturday in Minna.

While delivering a lecture titled, ‘Good Politics at the Service of Peace: The Role of Eminent Persons in the Prevention and Management of Conflict in Nigeria,’ at the Legbo Kutigi International Conference Centre, Bello blamed certain politicians for the heightened tension and insecurity in the country.

He said, “We signed a peace pact with them (bandits) and there is no better day to enforce that peace than today, being World Peace Day, and I am pleased to inform you that since we had the understanding, there has been peace in the state.

“We have expended a lot of resources using military solutions but at the same time we have decided to go into dialogue. And we found out that it is beginning to yield positive results in some parts of the state.”

The governor added, “In our last meeting, we had an agreement and we requested them to stop their activities and they also requested the release some of their members presumed to be unlawfully detained as part of an effort to resolve the crisis and get peace.

“They are here today, these are people who feel oppressed; they have not been captured in the federal and states’ budgets; these are people that their way of living and survival has not received the desired attention; these are people that are aggrieved; these are people that have been attacked.

“They feel they have been forced into carrying weapons. We opened dialogue with them to stop their activities within a certain district of the state.”

Bello condemned the support being given to the proscribed Islamic Movement in Nigeria, saying it was capable of disintegrating the country.

A former Head of State General Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd) called on Nigerians to desist from acts that could lead to chaos, disunity and insecurity.

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