FastNews reports that Ahmad Gumi, a controversial Islamic cleric, says he has stopped mediating for armed bandits after the court declared them terrorists.
On Wednesday, Mr. Gumi spoke exclusively to PREMIUM TIMES in Kaduna.
He had visited bandits in the forests of Zamfara and Niger states, provided medical services to them, and urged the federal government to grant them a general amnesty similar to that granted to militants in the Niger Delta.
Before Mr. Gumi launched his campaign, the Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle, and his counterpart in Katsina, Aminu Masari, had engaged in dialogue with bandits in their respective states. But after the approach failed to end the menace, the governors endorsed military action against the bandits.
Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai and his Niger State counterpart, Abubakar Sani, have consistently opposed dialogue with the outlaws.
Mr. Gumi had said his efforts in that campaign were for the sake of peace and economic prosperity in Nigeria, but lamented that the efforts had been sabotaged.
Premium Times reported how the Federal High Court in Abuja declared the activities of bandits’ groups as acts of terrorism.
The verdict strengthened the call on the federal government to declare bandits ravaging the North-western and the North-central regions as terrorists.
Mohammed Abubakar, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) of the Federation, had filed an ex-parte application seeking to proscribe the grisly activities of ‘bandits’ who have been waging a relentless war against ordinary Nigerians in the North-west and the North-central States.
The bandits have been vicious in kidnapping and killing their captives across Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna, Benue, and Sokoto states.
Gumi’s new position
And now with the declaration of the bandits as terrorists, Mr. Gumi said it will be dangerous for him to continue to engage the bandits.
He told our reporter that “since the federal government has declared them terrorists, I don’t have anything to do with them anymore.
“I will not like to expose myself to danger again and to put a spotlight on myself unnecessarily,” the cleric said.
“I have tried all I could do to admonish the nation on the best way to do it, but it seems my advice has (fallen) on deaf ears.”
The cleric in previous media interviews had advised the federal government to grant amnesty to the bandits and to establish a ‘federal ministry of nomadic affairs’ which will address the grievances and complaints of Fulani cattle herders.
But from now, Mr. Gumi said he would be a “spectator in the crisis”.
“I have endangered my life for peace by going to the forest and engaging the bandits. Among them there are rock bandits, they are dangerous, armed ready to fire.
“It is dangerous, still we risked our lives to see that we bring peace to this nation. Because somebody has to take that risk and we took it and thanked God we came out safely and knowledgeable, knowing how to come about this issue.”
Mr. Gumi said, “Maybe in the future when the political situation changes for the better, we can do it again so that there will be peace, harmony, and tranquility in the country.”