Gumi: When silence is golden

Revered Islamic scholar, Sheik Ahmed Gumi, has continued to stir the hornet’s nest with his controversial statement on amnesty for bandits. Gumi, who times without number proved to be sympathetic to bandits and championing amnesty for them, has kicked against the current military aerial bombardment aimed at bringing an end to their nefarious activities.

The bandits Gumi is calling on government to negotiate with or grant amnesty to have failed to lay down their arms and surrender despite repeated appeals.

In Katsina and Zamfara states, the governors extended an olive branch for any bandit who agrees to repent and return to normal life. Sadly, the amnesty Gumi advocates has failed to yield the desired results. The activities of these bandits have continued unabated with many poor farming communities abandoning their hamlets and farms in total fear.

One can say their activities are embolding every passing day, with many lives and resources being wasted. Did Gumi caution these bandits to stop attacking these helpless communities? In my article entitled “Gumi and amnesty for bandits” published by many national dailies, includinthe Blueprint, I debunked an erroneous attempt by Gumi and his co-travellers to compare the violent activities of bandits to other elements of insecurity in the country such as Biafran agitators and Movement for the Emacipation of Niger Delta (MEND).

I further clarified that Biafra agitators want secession and government is fully aware about it. The same with Niger Delta militians who have been advocating resource control, in view of what they perceive as negligence of their communities by government and oil companies.
However, the question I asked was whether the blood thirsty northern bandits had any grievances or not. One needs to know why they kill and kidnap poor farming communities, forcefully enter schools and abduct harmless children on daily basis for financial gains. If there exist any grievances or injustice against them, one would have loved the bandits should have forwarded them to government instead of being rudderless and violent. Is Gumi aware that since the banditry began in Zamfara state in 2011, over 12,000 people have been killed and 250,000 cattle rustled by the bandits? Since he initiated his peace mission, how many bandits have so far surrendered and repented?
While nobody can deny the fact that Fulani herdsmen are victims of cattle rustling and other government corrupt officials, it should not be a licence for them to engage in kidnapping and banditry activities. That is why government cannot continue to fold its arms while bandits are holding some part of the country to ransom, destroying education and means of livelihood for millions of people.

Sheikh Ahmed Gumi, who is a retired military officer, must have known that if mediation fails to provide a lasting solution, the only option left available to any government is to use brutal force to crush those who take arms against it and its people. For Gumi to insist on amnesty for bandits who kill thousands of helpless poor people while all efforts to make them repent had failed is like endorsing their murderous actions. It is either Gumi supports government’s efforts to liberate the bandit ravaged states or he keeps quiet.

Ibrahim Mustapha,
Pambegua, Kaduna state