Controversial Islamic cleric, Ahmad Gumi, has again condemned the ongoing military onslaughts against armed bandits in Zamfara and others Northwest states of Nigeria,
Mr Gumi said only residents of the adjoining states are suffering the effects of the military action in Zamfara, as the bandits have since allegedly escaped.
“By the way, what you may not hear is that the bandits over the years have developed escape routes from aerial bombardments. They told us: you can only kill our women and children with your attacks!”, the cleric posted on his verified Facebook page.
He continued: “Just yesterday (Thursday), two contingents of banditry victims came to me that their loved ones were abducted by bandits in Kaduna suburbs – Rigachukun and Keke. An escapee engineer in the later said when he overheard and understood that they (bandits) were strangers in the area as they were calling the locals to lead them, that gave him the courage to slip through densely grown maize plantations to escape.
“The point is that, if Zamfara is on fire for them, definitely it goes without saying that they will migrate to other areas. So, is the whole of Nigeria going to be under lock-up in incommunicado? (sic),” Mr Gumi queried.
“War has never been the solution anywhere anytime” he said, urging the Nigerian government to grant an amnesty to the bandits.
Mr Gumi had visited some bandits in their forest hideouts and has consistently advised the government to negotiate with them in order to bring an end to banditry in the region.
Zamfara State Governor Bello Matawalle and his counterparts in Katsina had engaged bandits in their state in dialogue but the approach failed to end the menace. They have now withdrawn from the process and endorsed military actions.
Also, Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai and his Niger State counterpart, Abubakar Sani, are also opposed to dialogue with the outlaws.
The cleric denied that he has sympathy for the criminals. Rather, he said his concern is for “his country, his state and humanity.
“I am a qualified Medical Doctor who knows what it takes to precisely excise a brain tumour without destroying the delicate surrounding brain tissues. I was a commissioned military officer who knows what the military is for and what is the capability of our military. I am an intellectual with a Ph.D. from Abroad. I am an Islamic scholar who knows the immorality of killing innocent lives. So, silence for me in this ocean of oblivion is not an option,” Mr Gumi said.
He added that “a sensible person would not allow his dwelling to be a theatre of war,” adding, “killing rats in your rat-infested sitting room with an iron rod will only end up destroying your gadgets and furniture probably without killing any. We should not mask out poor governance with artillery power.”
“My mission has not failed but it was sabotaged or discouraged by the same influential people that benefit from the chaos or like us to destroy ourselves and leave the herdsmen in perpetual ignorance,” Mr Gumi said.
“Some said we have tried amnesty but it didn’t work. You didn’t try amnesty but tried amnesia. Amnesty without rehabilitation, reconciliation, and reparation is no amnesty. Ask the former Niger Delta Militants who killed security men in the past what an amnesty is. What stops us from having a federal ministry of Nomadic Affairs where their grievances and complaints will be addressed?
“All the bandit leaders we saw complained of how some repentant ones were picked and extra-judicially killed after the surrender of their weapons. Without their trust of the very unjust system all Nigerians complain of, which they took arms to fight, peace and negotiations with them will not work. This brings our role of mediation.
“They (bandits) know as religious men we will not deceive them, and they came out in troops to meet us. To our astonishment, it is the same unjust system that turns round to betray our peace mission. Some of the press for giving a negative narrative, whom I also term criminals-in-purpose.
“Some of the politicians who I see as urban-bandits who, out of their share mismanagement of our meagre resources and misplacement of priority, cause the death and infirmity of more people than the bandits affect.
“Of recent, how many Nigerians die of cholera -a water-born disease- because of lack of simple clean water to drink, or typhoid, malaria, and malnutrition? A nation with a maternal mortality rate of almost 500000/annum because of the lack of adequate maternal health facilities and qualified staff. A country where its highly-priced medical personnel is looking for a window to escape the inferno. Such a country, please!
“As for the economic impact of the areas now under siege, it’s just a matter of time, you’ll hear them crying out. Already yesterday a man from Tsafe came begging because of economic stagnation, one would have thought that Gusau the capital is closer than Kaduna to beg.
“As for those cynics that have no value to add in the dilemma except vituperation, and abuses, we know that is the substance they are made up of. No qualms whatsoever! you don’t expect fragrance from faeces,” Mr Gumi said.
So, what is the solution?
“Good Intelligence! Good proficient policing, engagement of the local herdsmen in policing, rehabilitation, reconciliation, and reparation of all victims of banditry.
“The good, honest judiciary that protects people’s rights. Money and time well spent on these will surely kill the disease and heal the nation of this delinquency, crimes, and bad governance,” he concluded.