Nigerian Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Abubakar Gumi has urged Nigerians understand the plight of bandits terrorizing large swathes of the country’s Northern region, and said they should not be referred to as criminals.
Speaking to ARISE News on Wednesday night, Gumi insisted on the need for the government to negotiate with the bandits, rather than declaring war against them.
Gumi also raised hopes on the release of Kagara schoolboys who were kidnapped by bandits recently.
According to him, he has been praying for their release.
He said the initial challenge was that the splinter group that kidnapped the students was not identified.
He, however, said the kidnappers have now been identified and that the boys would be released soon.
Gumi advised the government and Nigerians to put the past deeds of the bandits behind them and open a new chapter for negotiation in order to put an end to kidnapping and incessant killings of people in the country.
“The respected people in society – the clergy should approach them. They need people to bring them closer and show them the soft side. You, as a journalist, should write things that will bring people together.
“Castigating and abusing bandits through the media will not address the issue. Government and the clergies need to speak with the bandits and dialogue with them and they will listen. The government must help them to drop arms and criminalities and become good citizens of Nigeria,” Gumi said.
He explained that the bandits were not difficult to reach and that government could reach out to them through their relatives and kinsmen, adding that even the BBC and the media are beginning to have access to them and interview them.
He said the use of force on the bandits by the military should be applied legally and not by extra-judicial killings through the use of the machinery of government to attack bandits.
He said although the bandits do commit a crime by killing innocent Nigerians, he insisted that the bandits justify their actions by the crime that the community committed against them.
“Government should, therefore, understand the grievances of the bandits and tell them to go and sin no more,” Gumi further said.