Rather, Nsuke argued that granting amnesty to bandits will encourage “jobless youths to take to organised crime with the hope of being resettled and also an incentive for their sponsors who eventually become beneficiaries.” The MOSOP president added: “Moreover, it amounts to double standards and is highly unfair that some citizens accused of stealing food items due to hunger languish in prisons while the government is considering amnesty for people who took up arms against the state and have killed thousands of Nigerians.
“MOSOP is of the opinion that the government should rather than grant amnesty to criminals consider a reformation programme for bandits within special prisons and extend the programme to accommodate all Nigerian prisoners for a period not exceeding five years while they are in custody of the state. We note that amnesty for bandits is a very bad signal and could worsen the crime rate as more young people may be persuaded into crime with the hope of a settlement.
“We disagree with the argument that amnesty for bandits can be similar to the amnesty which was granted to Niger Delta militants. While we do not subscribe to the approach deployed by the Niger Delta militants, their agitation was a response to decades of neglect and resource exploitation without tangible benefits.
He added: “Moreover, the Niger Delta militants did not set out to kill innocent citizens and displace constituted authority. We admit that their violent agitation was condemnable but we hold strongly that their target was not the Nigerian people who suffered the deprivations they revolted against. “In contrast, bandits in Northern Nigeria are executing a religious and ideological war which cannot be suppressed with an amnesty programme. They have set out to behead Christians, Muslims and community members, kidnap little children and inflict unimaginable injuries on people.”