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Kaduna Kidnappings: Gumi Says Kinetic Approach Turning Bandits into Monsters, Pushes For Dialogue

“We’re turning them (bandits) into monsters, more monstrous than they are,” claims Sheikh Gumi.

Following the recent kidnappings in Kaduna State and the demand of 40 trillion naira as ransom by the bandits, Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi has suggested that the government should have a dialogue with them (bandits) rather than pay any ransom for the victims’ freedom.

Gumi in an interview with ARISE NEWS on Thursday, said the bandits only pitched the ludicrous amount of N1 billion naira ransom as a bargaining tool. He also said there is need for a change of approach by the Nigerian government to issues of banditry and terrorism.

“I believe no ransom should be paid but engage these people, give them hope and not only in this children’s case. I’m so sad that the leaders are just realizing that it is turning into a war. It has been a war and not mere criminality. If we can see Israel and Hamas sitting down to exchange prisoners, I don’t see why we cannot negotiate.

“I support that the government should not pay any ransom but what I say is that the government must dialogue and from my knowledge about their psychology, that amount they are pitching is because they want to have a bigger bargaining power, otherwise, I don’t think in their wildest dreams, they would think the government would give them that money.

“What is happening now is that we are seeing that these bandits are getting more and more vicious. Before now, they don’t do what they do now. We can only attribute that to the kinetic approach which is over emphasized. When we hear the politicians talk, nothing is done about it to overcome these people. For example, now we are fighting bandits.

“They are anonymous, how can you fight who you do not even know? You say lets go in, map them out and all but all these intelligence information are not there. How can you know somebody from satellite and the high-handed approach is what is making it worse. They are now kidnapping small children and they are threatening death which they don’t do before. So, I think what we need to do is go back to the drawing board and truly be non-kinetic.

“When the victims of the train attack were held, a committee was set by the military in the former government and they were able to contact them, same way journalists have been able to contact them. If they are not there, it will be difficult to contact them but what you don’t know is that they are foot soldiers. “We need a program just like you have for the Niger Delta. A program that will bring them out of the forest, on the premise of educating them, giving them healthcare, and giving them a peaceful life. This is how you entice people to avoid violence and militancy.  

“But when you continue dropping bombs, spraying gas on the women and children, they find no sympathy and empathy for our children. So, this is it, an eye for an eye. So, we have to change our tactics, we have to change our style. What we have been doing has not been productive. If we can have a channel where we can have dialogue with them, understand them and promise them what we can do, I think that is a better way. We are turning them into monsters, more monstrous than what they are. They are ignorant, they don’t have direction, leadership, they don’t have empathy as it is now because of the way we took them too, until when we change our tactics and allow the people who know.

“From my past experiences from the former regime, I think they are bent on kinetics, something we know that can only compound the issue. So, I have not reached out to anybody. The government knows what is right to do. In fact just ask them how they got the train victims out finally at the end. They know and have a committee of experts and academicians who do the negotiations.”

The Cleric also stated that it is rather humiliating to have the military get involved in issues of civilian insurgency.

 “Also, the military, I was in the military myself and I think it is humiliating to say the military should take care of civilian insurgency. All we need is very good detective work, very good policing and very good social programs. These people hide civilians and do what they do. Let us not humiliate and disgrace our military. This is not their job. It is the job of the politicians, police and intelligence.

“We need to see how we can organize ourselves to see how we can circumvent these people. It is very easy. From our estimation and statistics, we don’t think they are more than a hundred thousand people in the forest.”

Gumi further said contrary to the belief of many, there is no political undertone to these attacks as it affects everyone regardless of party or religion.

“There is no political undertone to it. Infact, everybody is suffering from this, irrespective of their party, religion and sex. Everybody is a victim. We should know that we are fighting a group of people that have been neglected, oppressed and the only way they can hurt us is through these targets. this is what we understand.”

Chioma Kalu 

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