A popular Islamic Cleric, Shiekh Gumi has insisted that the only way to end banditry in Nigeria is for the government to dialogue with the bandits, most of who areFulani herdsmen.
At a virtual meeting today, March 24, hosted by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies, Sheikh Gumi stressed that under the present circumstance, the bandits will never surrender their arms unless they feel safe.
“Nobody can justify criminality. What we are saying is what we saw in the forest is an ethnic war going on between people in the forest and the neighbouring villages and hamlets. When the herder felt he has grievances and nobody was listening to him, he took on weapons.”
“So when we went there and they saw a listening ear, they were ready to negotiate, tell us their grievances, and ready to incorporate into the society.”
“So in such a case, I see no reason why we should not have a dialogue with them.
“If you don’t show them they’re safe in the larger society, there’s no way they can leave their weapon. And that’s why we asked for amnesty for them just like we had in the Niger Delta.”
“I’m not justifying their kidnapping, what they do is crime. But their kidnapping is to get more money to buy more weapons so that they can protect themselves.”.
Gumi has faced severe criticisms over his involvement in negotiations between the Nigerian government and the bandits.
The virtual meeting today was organised to discuss Nigeria’s security challenges.