Controversial Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, says he has quit his mediating role for Nigerian bandits following their declaration as terrorists by the Federal High Court, Abuja
Sheikh Gumi told the Premium Times newspaper in Kaduna on Wednesday that his efforts in that campaign were for the sake of peace and economic prosperity of Nigeria, but lamented that the efforts have been sabotaged.
Gumi had visited bandits in the forests in Zamfara and Niger States, taken medical services to them and has been waging a campaign, urging the federal government to grant them general amnesty as was done to the militants in the Niger Delta.
Before Gumi’s campaign, Governors of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle, and Katsina, Aminu Masari, had engaged bandits in their State in dialogue towards granting general amnesty, but their efforts failed to end the menace. The Governors later became vociferous voices for military operations against the bandits.
On the other hand, Governors Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna) and Abubakar Sani-Bello (Niger), have consistently opposed dialogue with the terrorising gangs.
Mohammed Abubakar, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) of the Federation, had filed an ex-parte application seeking to proscribe the grisly activities of ‘bandits’ who have been waging a relentless war against ordinary Nigerians in the North-west and North-central States.
The bandits have been vicious in kidnapping and killing their captives across Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna, Benue and Sokoto states.
Sheikh Gumi said that with the declaration of the bandits as terrorists, it will be dangerous for him to continue to engage the bandits.
According to him, “since the federal government has declared them terrorists, I don’t have anything to do with them anymore. I will not like to expose myself to danger again and to put a spotlight on myself unnecessarily.
“I have tried all I could do to admonish the nation on the best way to do it, but it seems my advice has fell (fallen) on deaf ears.”
The cleric in previous media interviews, had advised the federal government to grant amnesty to the bandits, and to establish a ‘federal ministry of nomadic affairs’ which will address the grievances and complaints of Fulani cattle herders.
But from now, Gumi said he would be a “spectator in the crisis”.
“I have endangered my life for peace by going to the forest and engaged the bandits. Among them there are rock bandits, they are dangerous, armed ready to fire.
“It is dangerous, still we risked our lives to see that we bring peace to this nation. Because somebody has to take that risk and we took it and thanked God we came out safely and knowledgeable, knowing how to come about this issue.”
Mr Gumi said “Maybe in the future when the political situation changes for better, we can do it again so that there will be peace, harmony and tranquility in the country.”
Originally published in Premium Times