Gumi and amnesty for bandits | Dailytrust

Gumi and amnesty for bandits

Dr Ahmad Abubakar Gumi is an Islamic scholar and Medical doctor.
Dr Ahmad Abubakar Gumi is an Islamic scholar and Medical doctor.

Since he started toeing the dangerous path of meeting and preaching to bandits to repent and appealing to government to consider negotiation instead of using brutal force against them, revered Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmed Gumi, has continued to stir a hornet’s nest.

His evangelism to cattle rustlers who transformed to bandits and continue to terrorize many states in Northern Nigeria has contributed significantly to the temporal peace deal enjoyed in Zamfara, Katsina and Niger states. This inspired the release of some captives.

But Gumi’s utterances in recent times have angered many Nigerians and constituted authorities. His recent interview with Arise TV, when he alleged that some military agencies are colluding with bandits to carry out their nefarious activities must have compelled the Department of State Security (DSS) to invite him to their Kaduna office. Gumi’s accusation was premised on the kind of sophisticated dangerous weapons he saw in the hands of the notorious bandits. He wondered how the weapons get to their hands. Infuriated by his statement, the Nigerian Army, through its spokesperson, also accused him of demoralizing its soldiers who are in war front and even assisted in freeing some abducted students of Kebbi State.

There is no gainsaying the fact that Gumi has assumed the roles of chief mediator between bandits and government. Evidences abound on how he toured many troubled northern states bedeviled by the activities of bandits and met with the affected governors. Everywhere he goes, Gumi preaches, canvasses or advocates negotiation, dialogue or amnesty programme for the bandits.

While no price is too cost to pay for the maintenance of peace and security in the country, it, however, seems that Gumi’s negotiation posturing has failed to yield the desired results in states that initiated it. For instance, both Zamfara and Katsina states governors have agreed to grant amnesty for bandits who surrender and embrace their peace accord.

Interestingly, when the dialogue or negotiation began many bandits repented and laid down their arms. But sadly, they later changed their minds and went back to the bush. This sad development compelled Zamfara and Katsina states governors to rescind their decision on further dialogue and amnesty.

For Gumi to insist that bandits be granted amnesty,  he is living in denial or has forgotten the past experiences of Katsina and Zamfara states’ failed amnesty programmes? Little wonder Kaduna State governor, El-Rufai ruled out any dialogue with the bandits. What about the mode of their operation which hinges on abduction for monetary gains? Is Gumi aware that there is a difference between banditry and other elements of insecurity in the country? The movement for emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) is an example. It was formed to pursue resources control in the Niger Delta region. The ideological indoctrinated Boko Haram members are driven by the desire to form an Islamic state. The same with IPOB which wants to secede from Nigeria and form Republic of Biafra. If I may ask, what are the northern bandits’ grievances or what do they want to achieve? The answers may be that they suffered theft from cattle rustlers. Of course, they might have lost their cattle and other valuable items to rustlers as claimed, but must that be the reasons to sack, kill and abduct helpless poor people?

Gumi can be right in his own way. However, with the continued killing of peasant farmers in Zamfara, Kaduna, Katsina and Niger states, which threatens food insecurity and abduction of schools children which also disrupts education in the North, the  bandits should not be recognized, let alone granted amnesty as demanded by Gumi.

Ibrahim Mustapha Pambegua, Kaduna State

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