Confusion yesterday trailed the purported invitation of the Kaduna-based Islamic scholar, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, for an “interview” by Department of State Services (DSS). While the spokesperson for the DSS, Dr. Peter Afunanya, who confirmed the invitation to Saturday Telegraph, described Gumi as “a person of interest”. However, Gumi in a press statement denied being invited nor questioned by the DSS, as he disclosed that security agencies had always been present in all his meetings with the bandits. “The Service invited Sheikh Gumi. And it is not out of place for it (DSS) to invite any person of interest”, Afunanya said. Though the Service did not disclose the reason for Gumi’s invitation, highly-placed security sources said it may not be unconnected with recent comments bordering on national security.
Speaking in confidence with this newspaper, one of the sources had said: “You are aware of the (alleged) incendiary comments that the Sheikh has been making of late. “As a responsible organisation, saddled with the mandate of detecting and preventing crimes against the state, including subversive tendencies, the action of the secret service is the minimum, in the circumstance”. Saturday Telegraph recalls that the Islamic scholar had, in an interview session with a national television on June 23, accused security agencies of colluding with suspected bandits terrorising parts of the North.
A few months ago, he had also alleged that soldiers of a certain faith were attacking Muslim communities, thereby heightening ethnic tension. It is on these records that the soon-to-be DSS’ guest had had several photo sessions with bandits, during his visits to the enemies of state hiding in thick forests, in some parts of the North.
Gumi’s positions, which many considered as seemingly inciting and incendiary, had triggered reactions from the Army, which accused him of attempting to denigrate the Armed Forces of Nigeria. While debunking the allegation of collusion, the Army had warned against actions that could undermine troops’ efforts at taming the worsening insecurity in the country. Among other things, Director, Army Public Relations (DAPR), Meanwhile, Gumi yesterday evening disclosed that all his engagements with bandits were done in the presence of security agencies. Gumi in a terse statement following the report of him being quizzed by the Department of Security Services (DSS) deny that he was invited by the secu-rity agencies.
The Islamic cleric said the speculation was not true. The statement entitled “I was not invited for questioning nor arrested by the DSS,” said: “I am having nonstop calls from all over the globe asking whether I was interrogated or detained by the DSS. Let it be clear. Nothing of that happened.” Gumi went further to say that: “I have a good working relationship with all the security outfits, and I didn’t meet any bandit in the forests we visited without the presence of the security men, state officials, representatives of traditional rulers, and Fulani Ardos. “And we continue to discuss and have interactions directly or through representatives with all these institutions. “So people should be rest assured that there is no conflict of any sort and we will continue to cooperate to see that peace has prevailed in this dear nation.” He said.