At least 86 gunmen have laid down arms and renounced violence in Niger’s south-western Tahoua region.
The region has been hit by armed gangs operating between Niger and northern Nigeria who carry out killings and kidnappings for ransom.
At a ceremony to receive them in the town of Bangui, some of the so-called repentant kidnappers said they resorted to criminality because they had no jobs, but later realised violence was not an option.
They have called on the government to provide more job opportunities. They were pardoned by the authorities following their surrender and were expected to be rehabilitated and given vocational skills.
This is one of President Mohammed Bazoum’s strategies to end the insecurity in Niger. The ex-gunmen have promised to help the authorities tackle insecurity by trying to persuade other kidnappers to also surrender and embrace peace.
Dozens of guns belonging to the former gang members were displayed at the event on Monday evening. Officials said talks with armed groups were key to ending the violence even as a military campaign continued.
Interior Minister, Hamadou Adamou Souley, said they hope the insecurity in Niger will be brought to an end “soon” given the progress being made.
Apart from increasing cases of kidnapping for ransom, Niger is also grappling with Boko Haram violence as well as other armed groups linked to the Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda. Law enforcers in the West African nation of Niger and the northern part of Nigeria recorded a huge win as numerous gunmen in the region decided to turn in their weapons.
According to a report by the BBC, an estimated 86 gunmen in the region surrendered their weapons for a more secure and honest future. For years these gunmen have been synonymous with the rampant kidnappings and killings in the area.
Some parts of Northern Nigeria have been hotspots for violent activities such as kidnappings and terrorist attacks. So the surrender of almost 100 gunmen marks a milestone event for the restoration of lawfulness in the region. –BBC