BEVERLY HILLS, June 04, (THEWILL) – Prominent Islamic Cleric, Sheik Ahmad Gumi, has advised the Federal Government to support splinter groups among bandits as a way to end banditry and the mass abductions of school pupils.
Gumi, who has been critical of President Muhammadu Buhari’s perceived mismanagement of the security crisis, said the government should sponsor intra-cell insurrection among the non-state actors as a counter-banditry measure.
Selling this counter-banditry strategy through The PUNCH in the aftermath of the abduction of 156 Islamiyya schoolchildren in the Rafi Local Government Area of Niger State, the Sheik said, many bandits were ready for dialogue.
He advised that government could use these repenting bandits to fight the “ugly ones.”
He said, “We are always trying to do our best, but you see, you need two hands to shake. You know these people (bandits) need engagements from the government itself. If you dialogue with them without the involvement of the government, it is a problem.
“Government needs to be proactive with them. We have a lot of them that are ready to fight the bad ones. Use the bad to fight the ugly, and use the good to fight the bad ones when you’re done with the ugly. Look at Boko Haram, who finished Shekau? Was it not the splinter group? So, it is easy.
“All these agitations you see, if the government can do a splinter group and the splinter group is empowered, every man wants power and money, they will do your job. There are many ready to submit themselves. All the ones you see me meeting in the bush, they are all telling us, ‘We are ready,’” he said.
Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, a former Army Captain, first emerged on the scene in February after he went on a so-called peace mission to a group of bandits in their forest hideout in Zamfara state.
Since then, he has undertaken other such visits to Katsina, Kaduna and Niger states, urging bandits to stop carrying out attacks.
But despite his mediatory role, he has stirred controversy for advocating talks and a “blanket amnesty” for the criminal groups responsible for the recent wave of kidnapping in northern Nigeria.
Gumi’s mediation efforts have also made him a target for Islamist militant group Boko Haram, who issued messages threatening the cleric.
His “risky adventure” may be termed a “success”. At another level, he held what is, in popular political expression, “fruitful discussions” that reveal first, why the bandits kill and maim, rob and rape, loot and burn; and second what the Nigerian State must do to deliver itself from these heinous acts of criminality.