John Shiklam in Kaduna
The Kaduna State Government is to initiate a disarmament programme to mop up weapons in the hands of people in the Southern part of the state.
The Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Alhaji Jafaru Sani, disclosed this thursday at workshop on peace and reconciliation for stakeholders from the area.
He, however, said before the programme commences, every step would be taken to restore the confidence of the people in their security and safety.
â€œWe must first restore peopleâ€™s confidence. Why should you ask somebody to surrender his weapon when you donâ€™t show sufficient resolve to protect him and his community? That is why the programme has been delayed.
â€œWe want to restore the confidence of the people so that they now willingly come out to surrender their weapons, believing that they will go back and sleep with their eyes closed,â€ the commissioner said.
According to him, anyone who surrenders a weapon during the disarmament programme, expected to last for three months, would be paid compensation based on the type of weapon being surrendered.
He said before the commencement of the programme, the state government would hold town hall meetings to consult widely with stakeholders, especially traditional rulers and cultural associations like the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) to ensure its success.
Sani said: â€œThe state government has an elaborate programme, one of which is the recognition of the fact that these weapons have been purchased with sweat from our people, to surrender them just like that will be a loss to the people.
â€œSo there is a form of compensation that will be paid for each weapon that is surrendered based on the category of the weapon.
â€œAfter the three month period of mopping the arms, whoever that is found with arms and ammunition either in his private residence or farm would be termed as a criminal and would be dealt with accordingly, regardless of his standing in the society.â€
The workshop which was organised by Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP) was attended by stakeholders in the Southern Kaduna crisis, including representatives of SOKAPU and Miyetti Allah Cattle Breedersâ€™ Association of Nigeria ( MACBAN).
In the past five years, hundreds of people have been killed, while property worth millions of naira have been destroyed in the area following incessant attacks by gunmen believed to be herdsmen.
It is believed that in the quest for self-defence, a lot of arms found their ways into the hands of many people in the area.