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10 days into Ramadan, Gumi still ‘missing’ – ‘FG to send high-powered delegation to S/Arabia’

All efforts to secure the release of Kaduna-based Islamic preacher, Dr. Ahmad Gumi who was arrested by Saudi Arabian authorities in February for alleged exchange…

All efforts to secure the release of Kaduna-based Islamic preacher, Dr. Ahmad Gumi who was arrested by Saudi Arabian authorities in February for alleged exchange of e-mails with Farouk Abdulmutallab, the suspected December 25, 2009 bomber is yet to yield results. 

When he was first arrested, he was taken to Jeddah but some weeks ago he was returned to Mecca, under house arrest. It was gathered that Dr. Gumi was arrested after the US security browsed through Farouk’s e-mail and found out that he corresponded with him shortly before he allegedly attempted to bomb a plane in the US.

It would be recalled that following the demise of Mallam Lawal Abubakar who succeeded Sheikh Abubakar Gumi in 2004, Dr. Gumi took over the annual Ramadan lecture of Sultan Bello Mosque, Kaduna. Since Gumi’s arrest, various Islamic groups in the country have made frantic efforts to secure his release but nothing tangible has happened.

Dr. Gumi is known to have always preached against terrorism and Islamic extremism in his Tafsir lectures, so his arrest for terrorism-related charges was greeted with wide disbelief, especially from Muslims conversant with his preaching. Before the commencement of this year’s Ramadan fasting, efforts to secure his release peaked.

Kaduna State governor, Mr. Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa and the Emir of Zazzau, Dr. Shehu Idris took up the issue, making pleas for his release. They went to President Goodluck Jonathan to discuss the issue with him. It was gathered that President Jonathan pledged to use diplomatic means to secure his release. However, weeks after, nothing serious seems to have been done as he is still in the custody of the Saudis who are yet to file any formal charges against him.

His son, Mubarak Ahmad Gumi, who spoke to our correspondent on phone, said Dr Gumi is still held by the Saudi authorities.  “My mother told me that he is fine because unlike before, my mother goes to see him and he calls her at times, but he is still with them,’’ he said.

The President of the Supreme Council for Shari’ah in Nigeria (SCSN) Dr. Ibrahim Datti Ahmad told our correspondent that it was Umar Muttallab, the father of the suspected bomber that asked Dr. Gumi to assist him to talk to his son to shun extremism and that was what Dr. Gumi did in his communication with Farouk.

He decried the initial indifference shown by the federal government on the arrest of Dr. Gumi in Saudi Arabia and urged the Nigerian government to expedite representations for his release and the protection of his rights.

Following his continued incarceration, the management of the Sultan Bello Mosque appointed a Jos-based Islamic Preacher, Sheikh Alhassan Saidu to deliver the annual Sultan Bello Mosque Ramadan lecture pending the release of Dr. Gumi. The announcement was made during a Juma’a prayer by the chief Imam of the mosque, Sheikh Abdulhamid Balale Wali. He said Mallam Saidu will deliver the lecture pending the release and arrival of Dr. Gumi to the country.  He said: “Mallam Saidu is the Assistant of Dr. Gumi. They were both appointed by the late Sultan of Sokoto, Mohammed Maccido and the Emir of Zazzau, Dr. Shehu Idris. The letters for their appointment were conveyed by the former Secretary-General of the Jama’atul Nasrul Islam (JNI), Justice Abdulkadir Orire. This is not the first time Mallam Saidu would be delivering the Tafsir. Whenever Dr. Gumi is not around, he delivers it.’’

While describing Malam Saidu as a versatile preacher, he urged Muslims in the country to continue to pray for the quick release of Dr. Gumi.  “He is no longer in detention; he is now under house arrest,” he said. “And we have gathered that he is in very sound health-wise. His family members are allowed access to him.’’ 

He said efforts are still high to secure his release by the Nigerian government.  “The Kaduna State governor, Mr. Patrick Yakowa and the emir of Zazzau, Dr. Shehu Idris few days ago traveled to Abuja and discussed the issue with Mr. President. The case is now between the Nigerian and Saudi governments, but we are hoping that he will soon be released,’’ he said.

The Saudi Arabian embassy in Nigeria told Weekly Trust that their government has forwarded all its findings to the Federal Government through the Foreign Affairs Ministry. The Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Dr. Idi Hong, on his part told Weekly Trust that the Federal Government is planning to send a high-powered delegation to Saudi Arabia over the issue.

Nigeria Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Alhaji Garba Aminci told Weekly Trust that from all indications the case seems to be beyond the Saudis. He said: “We really don’t know exactly what is causing his continued detention. Over a month ago they transferred him from Jeddah back to Mecca. They said they did not find anything incriminating him. Why are they still detaining him? We have written the Saudi authorities. High ranking government personalities with connection to the Saudi government have intervened all to no avail. We think that this case is beyond the Saudi authorities because ordinarily they don’t waste time over any individual. As soon as investigation is concluded, they charge you to court. In this case they admitted that the man is not found wanting and yet they have refused to release him. Right now we have written to the second Crown Prince, Naif Ibn Abdulaziz. As soon as he grants our request, we will see him over the matter. The Federal government is also planning a high powered delegation to be headed by a special envoy to come here to discuss with the Saudis. Honestly speaking there are insinuations that the Saudis may be acting on instructions from somewhere because we are really getting worried. Though we hear from family members who usually visit him that he is doing fine and that he is being well-taken-care-of, but nothing is more precious than freedom.”

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