Popular Islamic cleric Sheikh Gumi has called for the establishment of a federal ministry to address the grievances of bandits and killer Fulani herders terrorising the country.
Mr Gumi, a self-appointed intermediary in the ongoing crises of banditry and killer herdsmen, said in a Facebook post on Friday that bandits should be rehabilitated like Niger Delta militants, adding that declaring war against bandits would be futile.
“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,” Mr Gumi said. “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?”
President Umar Yar’Adua implemented an amnesty policy that saw the rehabilitation of thousands of Niger Delta militants who had waged a decade-long war on oil facilities across the region. The militants lamented economic deprivation and environmental degradation that assailed the oil-rich region, drawing both sympathy and condemnation from different segments of the society.
The militants accepted political and economic solutions, including the creation of a Niger Delta ministry, proposed by the Yar’Adua administration and relinquished their arms and ammunition, marking an end of hostilities that saw the destruction of oil installations and deadly attacks on local and expatriate oil workers.
Mr Gumi’s statement came days after Katsina Governor Aminu Masari openly admitted that Fulanis are the bandits and herders responsible for the widespread killing and abduction across the country.
Mr Gumi said his efforts to get amnesty for bandits and killer herdsmen have been sabotaged by President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to deploy troops against violent criminals.
“Some disingenuous people say: peace and negotiations with herdsmen bandits have failed, and your mission has failed! I said 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.
In the Facebook post, Mr Gumi also slammed presidential spokesman Femi Adesina for mocking him as a bandit lover for his open support alliance with the bandits, who have been responsible for widespread killing, destruction and mass abduction of citizens, including schoolchildren.
“You bootlicker that called me a bandit-lover! I am not one, but my country-lover, my region-lover, my state-lover, and my people-lover, and humanity-lover,” Mr Gumi said to Mr Adesina without naming him.
It was unclear whether or not Mr Buhari was weighing amnesty for bandits as a sustainable solution to the acute insecurity that threatens to define his legacy. A State House spokesman did not return a request for comment on Saturday morning.
Read Mr Gumi’s full statement below:
WAR HAS NEVER BEEN A SOLUTION ANYWHERE ANYTIME
You bootlicker that called me a bandit-lover! I am not one, but my country-lover, my region-lover, my state-lover, and my people-lover, and humanity-lover.
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.
Only a fool would allow his dwelling to be a theatre of war. Unfortunately, how many fools are there. 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.
Some disingenuous people say: peace and negotiations with herdsmen bandits have failed, and your mission has failed!
I said 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.
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 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!
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!
Just yesterday, 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 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?
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.
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 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.
Oh Allah! on Your Mercy we depend. GUMI.