Kaduna-based popular Muslim cleric, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi has asked clerics of Igbo and Yoruba extractions to broker truce with members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Yoruba Nation activist, Sunday Adeyemo, also known as Sunday Igboho, as he did with bandits terrorising the North-West and parts of the North-Central.
The controversial cleric, had at different times mediated between the bandits and some state governments, a development condemned in some quarters.
The mission took him to Kaduna, Niger, Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara where he attempted to broker peace between the governors and the outlaws.
However, he could not arrange such peace deal between Kaduna state government and the bandits as the government warned anybody against doing such on its behalf.
The cleric, who had some time called for amnesty for the bandits, was also reported to have said bandits cannot be declared terrorists.
And in a statement Monday posted on his Facebook and obtained by Blueprint in Abuja, the controversial cleric said: “NE is already and is still devastated by this madness for over 12 years. If we allow, terror, to set into these raw naïve unexposed bandits, NW will be in ruins sooner than later. Already IPOB is destroying SE, and Igboho has set the ball of confusion rolling in SW. For those who want to destroy the NW, it’s a good recipe. Turn bandits into religious zealots. Tell me, what then remains of Nigeria?
“I have started to get these raw bandits out of their misadventure, but unfortunately, I have few helpers and a mountain of antagonists. The psychology in fighting natives is to induce a motive for their struggle if they don’t have one already, a motive that is manageable, and it is so managed. Unfortunately, reactions to threat in our nation are always slow and incoherent.
“I hope another Igbo clergy goes into the IPOB militants likewise and talk sense into them, and another Pastor of Oduduwa land talks against the Igboho secessionist tribal movement by way of sensitising people to the values of a cohesive nationalism that will guaranty freedom, equality, and justice for all. Religious forces can permeate hardened hearts where secular forces cannot.
“Regrettably, people just sit down in the comfort of their rooms or parlours and make useless passing comments that only add fuel to the inferno of ethnic jingoism and bigotry. In the 21st century, Nigeria is hijacked by semi-illiterates and half-baked tribal heroes that have nothing to offer besides promoting tribal xenophobia.
“Nigeria has over 250 ethnic groupings, it is not possible to divide such a nation into tribal enclaves. Nigeria is multi-religious, even with one same religion or sect there is no harmony and understanding that can build a prosperous unified nation where tranquility and development will flourish. We are tired of these bogus destructive fruitless slogans!”
Labeling bandits terrorists
On the calls by Governors Nasir El-rufai and Aminu Bello Masari that the bandits be declared terrorists, Guma said such a move would have some dire consequences.
The ex-soldier cum medical doctor made the position known on his Facebook.
He said: “Declaring Bandits as Terrorists: will come with a prize! Nobody doubts that sentimentalism today overrides sensibility in our polity. For the sake of posterity, some people will have to speak out.
“The acts the bandits are committing now in NW have gradually over time become tantamount to terrorism because wherever innocent people are fatal victims it is pure terrorism. Yet, innocence these days is relative. We agreed if their children and women are also killed, they are guilty by association or collateral damage, so also the bandits may think the same way. It’s right for vigilantes to lynch Fulanis herdsmen or anyone that looks like them by profiling but wrong for the herdsmen to ransack villages in retribution. They are pushed to believe it is an existential war and in war, ethics are thrown to the winds.
“Yet again, the only helpful part that is against bandits is that no other than them are attracted to join them in the NW because of its ethnic tinge and coloration. However, the moment they are termed Terrorist – Islamic for that matter, the direct foreign Jihadist movements will set in in force. And many teaming unemployed youth may find it palatable and attractive. Shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ plus AK47 against a ‘secular’ immoral society, where impunity reigns are the magnet for extremists and downtrodden – the majority of our youth.”
“Already these deadly terrorist groups are fighting for the soul of these bandits. This will give criminality a spiritual cover and remove the stigma of discrediting them with such crimes since now they are fighting a ‘Jihad’ as they will claim. In such a situation, does the larger society -as it is- has the moral high ground to fight back? This is the most probable consequence, the price of which is not worth it. Nothing stops the kinetic actions from going on without the controversy of semantics,” the cleric further added.
Omokri slams Gumi
Reacting to the call, Reno Omkri, a former media aide to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, has condemned Gumi, asking him to stop doing ‘PR’ for the bandits.
In a Twitter post Monday, Omokri hit the federal government for going after bandits, while turning a blind eye to ‘an inspiration to terrorists.’
“Sheikh Gumi never speaks for the victims. But when terrorists bandits are affected, he speaks. How long shall a government that is after Igboho and Kanu continue tolerating the PR work Gumi is doing for terrorists bandits? Gumi is an inspiration to these terrorists,” Omokri wrote.
In a related development, Ondo state Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN) has warned that the various criminal activities of kidnapping, bombing and assault on the people in some parts of the country being referred to as banditry must be appropriately addressed as terrorism.
Governor Akeredolu said infiltration of the country’s borders and burning down of railway were activities that must be addressed as terrorism and the perpetrators treated as same.
The governor spoke Monday in Abuja at the 27th Nigerian Economic Summit with the theme: “Securing Our Future: The Fierce Urgency of Now.”
Akeredolu and his Kaduna state counterpart, Mallam El-rufai and others were among the panelists at the summit which centered on addressing the security challenges in the country.
In his introductory remarks, Akeredolu contended that a nation with failed security and justice systems was set to fail.
While lamenting that the dimension of insecurity in the country recently was surprising, the governor said he had always believed in multi-level policing as the best way of securing the nation.
“In Ondo State, we don’t have terrorism. Our problem is farmer/herder clashes and kidnap for ransom. We have drug abuse and agitation for self-determination. We have always preached the multi-level policing in Ondo state. We believe in layers of security,” he said.
The governor, who explained that although there were criminal trespasses which can be treated by the state, stressed that before the Amotekun corps was established, the Police were not always ready to make arrest.
“Yes, you have criminal trespass. It should be treated by the state. All we had before Amotekun was a police that had the duty to arrest and was not prepared to make an arrest. Things are changing and have really changed in Ondo state.
“Today, if you trespass on other people’s land, the Amotekun will go after you and arrest you. They pay compensations to the farmers and when they fail they are in court. It is the only way you can send signals to the people.
“When you commit a crime and the hands of law doesn’t catch up with you, another person will repeat it. I can assure you that when you do not have an effective policing system, there is little or nothing a governor can do. And the criminal trial is taking too long,” the governor further said.
Speaking on the recent ban on open grazing, Governor Akeredolu said the culture of nomadic pastoralist must be discouraged in the interest of those involved.
He noted that the issue of grazing routes was not a welcome conversation, adding that those were issues of the past that must not be brought back to the fore.
”Speaking for those of us who have put in place anti-open grazing law. We have our reasons and we have no apologies. Grazing routes? Grazing routes to where? It is not going to work. There are things we had in the past. Don’t let us imagine it now. Time changes. Grazing with AK 47 is an assault. Ban on open grazing, we are doing it effectively in Ondo state.
“Nomadic pastoralist is not a new thing. There were nomadic farmers all over the world. I know of people, high ranking who have ranches today. They can showcase their cows.
“Why are we pushing these people out? It is a culture that must be discouraged in the interest of those who are involved. Even with the president’s order that anyone with AK-47 should be arrested, how many have been arrested?” the governor said.