Treating herders as terrorists will cause mayhem: Sheik Gumi
Islamic cleric Sheikh Ahmad Gumi has faulted the recent declaration of bandits as terrorists, stating that the development will result in more havoc on Nigerian communities.
“I hope this declaration will not give the license to people to be profiling herdsmen in general as terrorists and taking laws into their hands against them. It will cause more mayhem,” Mr Gumi said in a statement by media consultant, Malam Tukur Mamu in Kaduna on Friday.
The Islamic preacher’s latest disavowal come hours after the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court declared bandits terrorists. After several calls, the court also demanded that President Muhammadu Buhari regime publish the proscription order in the official gazette and two national dailies.
According to the presiding judge Taiwo Taiwo, the acts of terrorism “include, but not limited to banditry, kidnappings for ransom, kidnapping for marriage, mass abductions of school children and other citizens, cattle rustling, enslavement, imprisonment, severe deprivation of physical liberty, torture, rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, other forms of sexual violence, attacks and killings in communities and commuters and wanton destruction of lives and properties in Nigeria.”
But Mr Gumi believes the declaration will not stop the mass killings and kidnappings across the country. “The declaration will not change anything, it will not change the dynamics. Already the military is engaging them. It didn’t stop them from kidnappings and killings. The declaration will not end their aggression against the society,” the cleric said.
Mr Gumi who has in the past months defended the activities of bandits and said Nigeria will end if they are declared terrorist, attributed the recent development to the Buhari regime bowing to pressure from Nigerians.
He said, “I think the federal government has succumbed to media blackmail by a section of the country. It will not have any practical value because even before the declaration they are being fought and treated as terrorists.”
Questioning the declaration, the cleric also recalled that the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) but its members have not been banned from traveling to other countries.
“Their citizenship remains intact, it has not been denounced. So what type of declaration is that? I sincerely hope that Nigerians will not take the herdsmen as terrorists but should regard the criminality of the few among them against innocent people as acts of terrorism, just as we see IPOB and their attacks on security agencies and other northern citizens as acts of terrorism. Very few herdsmen are bandits, if you go through their population.”
He further reiterated that the incessant attacks can only be curbed through rehabilitation and proper engagements with the bandits.
“The Fulani banditry is a socio-economic problem. We have seen it, we interacted widely with them. We told the federal government the way out. It can only be won through engagement, dialogue and justice. That is why today there is relative peace in the Niger Delta because the government has accepted the painful reality of rehabilitating and empowering them.”
Mr Gumi added that the bandits have suffered through loss of their livelihood. He also noted that there must be equitable distribution of wealth and justice for them.
“Fulani have suffered so much. They have lost their legitimate means of livelihood, I mean their cows through cattle rustling and extortion by security agencies. That has to be addressed as a means of genuine reconciliation and integration. They should have a sense of belonging,” he added.
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