A prominent Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi has said that nomadic Fulanis are fighting an ethnic war with the rest of Nigeria because they feel that their existence as an ethnic group has been seriously threatened.
Sheikh Gumi who spoke today, February 22 on Channels Television program, Politics Today, said: “what people consider as banditry is actually an ethnic war by nomadic Fulanis who feel that the existence of their ethnic group is being threatened by other tribes such as Yorubas, Igbos, Hausas and others.
“One can, in fact, address them as militants. Their mission is not to kill. They want money having lost their sources of livelihood to cow rustlers. Where there are killings, they are mostly ethnic revenge because one or some of their kinsmen had been killed by people of other ethnic groups,” Gumi said in response to a question on what could be the motivation for banditry in northern Nigeria.
“These militants are known to have even recruited fellow Fulanis beyond the borders of Nigeria to assist them in fighting this ethnic war.”
Gumi said that the Nigerian State has been guilty of acts of injustice against nomadic Fulanis, alleging that sometime in 2014 he was privileged to learn that about 300 Fulanis had been killed extra-judicially by the Nigerian military under the guise of seeking solutions to cow rustling in parts of the north.
He also accused the Nigerian government, through its security agencies, of profiling Fulanis and setting them apart for intimidation, extortions and blackmail.
Asked to proffer solution to the spiraling crisis, Sheikh Gumi called for a cessation of military hostilities against the bandits and the exploration of dialogue and an amnesty program.
“The Nigerian military knows where these militants are. They should stop the war, go in and negotiate.
“If the pressure becomes too much, the bandits may get infiltrated by the Boko Haram insurgents. Thankfully, that has not happened yet. The solution is dialogue, not war.”
Sheikh Gumi, who denied knowing who the abductors of the Kagara students are, said that the governments of Niger, Zamfara, and Sokoto States have bought into the peace process and already in dialogue with bandits.
He said that the said states were helping out with the logistics and security arrangements for his various meetings with bandits, even as he expressed hope that the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai would soon buy into the amnesty-for-peace process.