ABUJA, Nigeria – The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) lambasted the federal government’s dialogues with terrorists in Zamfara State, labelling the government a “terrorist sympathiser.”
The critique from this top-tier civil society organisation, which is renowned for advocating human rights, democracy, and good governance, adds to the mounting pressure on the federal government over its counter-terrorism strategy.
In its press release on Friday, September 6, 2023, HURIWA condemned the federal government for engaging in dialogue with terrorists with known records of mass attacks, kidnappings of female students, and the heinous killings by Fulani armed insurgents in the North-west.
The association went on to label these actions a “betrayal of the Nigerian people and an infringement of their human rights.”
The organisation’s condemnation comes on the heels of allegations from the Zamfara State governor, Dauda Lawal, who revealed that the federal government has been secretly negotiating with terrorists in his state.
Lawal, who represents the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), has been a vocal critic of any form of negotiation with terrorists.
“We have credible reports of federal government agencies engaging in secretive negotiations with bandits without aligning with the state government or other security agencies,” revealed Lawal, as conveyed by his spokesperson, Sulaiman Idris.
Idris further elaborated, “There have been instances where federal delegations met bandit groups in various regions such as Birnin Magaji, Maradun, and Mun haye without our knowledge. It’s vital to learn from the failures of past administrations that tried, unsuccessfully, to negotiate peace with these bandits.”
Idris also reaffirmed Lawal’s standpoint against negotiating with terrorists. “The priority of the Zamfara State Government is to combat banditry relentlessly. We implore the Federal Government to halt any ongoing negotiations with these bandits as it jeopardises the advancements made so far,” he stressed.
Bello Matawalle, the state’s previous governor, now the minister of state for defence and a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), was notably in favour of negotiating peace deals with terrorists during his tenure from 2019-2023.
Interestingly, his predecessor, Abdulaziz Yari, had also advocated for peace dialogues with terrorists during his gubernatorial term.
The North-west region has long been beleaguered by terrorism, resulting in the tragic deaths of hundreds and the displacement of millions.
HURIWA has made an urgent appeal to the international community and global human rights entities, urging them to intervene and hold the federal government accountable for its actions, which the group believes have exacerbated Nigeria’s security crises.