Kaduna based Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, has again spoken for and in defence of bandits and and armed herdsmen in the country, insisting that except bandits terrorising parts of the country are assured of their safety and rehabilitation, they would not lay down their arms and surrender.
Gumi, who spoke during a virtual event on Nigeria’s security challenges organised by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies, also said that herdsmen took up arms when nobody listened to their grievances, insisting that there was no reason why the government should not hold talks with the bandits who were willing to negotiate.
He said: “Nobody can justify criminality. What we are saying is what we saw in the forest is an ethnic war going on between people in the forest and the neighbouring villages and hamlets. When the herder felt he had grievances and nobody was listening to him, he took up arms.
“So when we went there and they saw a listening ear, they were ready to negotiate, tell us their grievances, and ready to incorporate into society. So in such a case, I see no reason why we should not have a dialogue with them.
“If you don’t show them they’re safe in the larger society, there’s no way they can leave their weapon. And that’s why we asked for amnesty for them just like we had in the Niger Delta. I’m not justifying their kidnapping. What they do is criminal. But their kidnapping is to get more money to buy more weapons so that they can protect themselves.”