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What bandits’ commanders told me in Zamfara forests – Sheikh Gumi

Sheik Gumi said an attempt to militarily quell armed banditry is dangerous and would not succeed.

A prominent Kaduna-based cleric, Sheik Ahmad Abubakar Gumi, said top bandits’ commanders in the state’s forests told him that Yan Sakai is still carrying out extrajudicial executions of Fulani and until it stopped, peace would not return to the state.

Sheik Gumi spoke on Friday while he was briefing Governor Bello Mohammed Matawalle on his meeting with bandits in the state.

The cleric, who was in the state to meet with leaders of the armed men in the state, said the commanders told him that unfulfilled promises from the state authorities and such extrajudicial killings of the Fulani in the state are threatening the lasting peace in the state.

“They, the commanders, further told us that the Yan Sakai’s executions and the combined airstrikes of the military had affected almost every Fulani family in the forest and these must stop if peaceful coexistence is to be achieved.

“On this matter, opinions differ, some people are saying that authorities should not hold dialogue with criminals while some are of the opinion that they should be crushingly defeated.

“What we observed is that these people are stark illiterates with no education whatsoever.

“But if they should be called upon and talked to they could be persuaded to embrace peace,” the cleric said.

Sheik Gumi said an attempt to militarily quell armed banditry is dangerous and would not succeed, adding that the best way to tackle the menace is adopting a carrot and stick approach and this should be put into consideration by all the stakeholders.

On how best the peace dialogue should be handled, the cleric said Governor Matawalle should remove any intermediary and be dealing with them directly as many of the promises made to them did not materialize probably because of these intermediaries.

He said amnesty programme for those who want to lay down their arms should be initiated as was done to the militants in the Niger Delta region, saying that carrying out good steps like these would bring peace to the state.

 

Blackmail

In his address, governor Matawalle said he was being blackmailed from different quarters for having a dialogue with bandits.

“We know our security operatives can’t stop them and we were convinced that the dialogue remains the best option.

“We have drilled boreholes in 138 identified bandits’ camps in the state and we will not relent until peace returned,” he added.

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