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Gumi: Security agencies colluding with bandits

…says FG fighting tribal war against herdsmen

Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, has alleged that Nigerian security agencies are colluding with bandits in terrorizing the northern part of the country. He said some bad elements in the nation’s security circles are aiding the activities of the bandits. The cleric, who is known to have access to the bandits, made the allegation in a chat with Arise Television yesterday. He said some of the bad elements have been arrested in Zamfara State. “I know, if you don’t know, that these bandits are cooperating with a lot of bad elements in our security system.

This is a business. So many people are involved and you will be so surprised and I’m still against anybody committing crime against this nation and against humanity. They were caught in Zamfara and everywhere. “How can these weapons cross our borders and get into the forest without the cooperation of some bad elements in the security system? It is not possible. If I get you the same amount, can you take it to the UK? You cannot enter the UK because their security is on alert. Part of fighting this banditry is to overhaul our security system,” he said.

Gumi also alleged that the Nigerian government is fighting a tribal war against herdsmen. He said the government is not neutral in the fight. “What you call banditry, when you cross to the other side, you will see that Nigeria is fighting a tribal war. “And the government is supposed to be the mediator. It is supposed to be neutral.

It is not supposed to take sides but the moment the government takes sides, it becomes part of the conflict. And this is what I saw in Zamfara State, Niger State and other states. “This is a tribal war going on and with the government taking sides.

If you can cross to the other side and listen to their grievances and understand their agitations, the government can easily cure this problem we are having. When you say these bandits are committing crimes, yes I agree that they are committing crime.

“They are killing people, kidnapping, raping and ‘doing’ all sorts of atrocities. But have you for once gone to their side to see the atrocities committed against them? Do you know that an ordinary herdsman is killed in many towns in Nigeria? We have seen that in Oyo, Anambra and many regions in Nigeria. People do look at that too.” According to Gumi, wellmeaning Nigerians who are neutral should speak against the involvement of the government.

“It is very unfortunate that in the 21st Century, because of the fracture in our governmental structure, people have to turned to tribalism or religion or regionality to express their grievances. “I think in the 21st Century, we should also have this sense of collectiveness and that we should come and build a nation whereby equity, transparency and even love for each other should be there. But the atrocities committed on both sides are appalling and we condemn it and we don’t support it,” he said. The cleric advocated that the Federal Government should allow the bandits to guard forests across the country.

He said that the Zamfara State government has done so since last year and it is yielding results. “We can allow them to guard the forests and we have seen them done that in Zamfara State whereby for more than 10 months there has been no kidnapping. “They have even freed some people that were kidnapped. Let’s not forget that there are thousands of Nigerians that are captives in the hands of these herdsmen and they are not in a hurry to release them. In fact, I learned last week that two nurses were kidnapped in April in Southern Kaduna.

Until now, we are trying to locate the people that kidnapped them and see if we can negotiate with them. “Look at the suffering Nigerians are passing through simply because we are not dialoguing with these people. These people are not from the moon, they are Nigerians and we know them. We know their relatives and everything about them. And they have qualities we can tap from. They told me that they are ready to sit down with the government.” Gumi also advised the government to grant amnesty to the bandits.

He stated that the government needs to send the bandits to school and allow them to have access to hospitals. “When you grant political amnesty in front of the press and the media but in the real sense, there was no amnesty. But amnesty comes with a package. “The package is that you have to retain these criminals, you provide for them – social amenities, schools, hospitals and you engage them. And you try to entice them to leave the forest by engaging them in different kinds of professions. Not every one of them can be a herdsman again but there was no project put forward apart from the ceremony of handing over of arms and that will not stop banditry.

“But I can say now from what we are hearing from Katsina State, there is relative peace. The government is truly engaging them and that is why Katsina State is finding out that political amnesty will not work. And we have seen that in Zamfara State.” The cleric also denied the reports that he speaks for the bandits. “I don’t speak for the bandits as well I don’t speak for those committing atrocities against the bandits. I’m trying to be neutral in this case and to look at it objectively and in fact, scientifically,” he said.

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