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Allow bandits to guard our forests for peace to reign, Sheikh Gumi says

NEWSMAN, Abuja – Popular Islamic cleric, Sheikh Gumi says Nigeria is fighting a tribal war, and is calling for amnesty for bandits if they must quit their criminal acts.

Gumi specifically urged farmers across the country to allow herdsmen to protect their forests.

According to Gumi, with the ongoing tribal war, the federal government is supposed to remain neutral.

The islamic scholar, while admitting that the bandits are committing all sorts of crimes, also said that atrocities have been committed against them by various tribes across Nigeria.

“What you call banditry, when you cross to the other side, you discover Nigeria is fighting a tribal war and government is supposed to be the mediator, it is supposed to be neutral, it’s not supposed to take sides,” Gumi said on Arise TV on Wednesday morning.

“But the moment government takes side, it becomes part of the conflict. And this is what I saw in Zamfara State, in Niger State and other states. This is tribal war going on and the government taking one side.

“When you said these bandits are committing atrocities, yes, agree they are committing crimes, they are killing people, they are kidnapping, they are raping, they are doing all sorts of atrocities.

“But, have you for once go to their own sides to see all sorts of atrocities that are also committed against them?

“Do you know that an ordinary herdsman is lynched in many towns in Nigeria? We have seen that in Oyo, we have seen that in Anambra, we have seen that in many regions of Nigeria. I think there should be well meaning Nigerians that should stay neutral in this tribal war.”

Insisting on his call for amnesty for the bandits, Gumi said they are ready to surrender if government will provide means of livelihood for them.

“The Niger Delta example, I think we can take example from that. When they were vandalising pipelines, they were given the pipelines to guard.

“Now, the herdsmen are controlling a big chunk of land whereby they are preventing farmers from farming. As the Niger Delta is important to the economy, these herdsmen now are becoming important to the Nigerian economy.

“They can be our guards, they can guard the forests. They have qualities that we can tap from,” Gumi said.

He dismissed the amnesty granted to bandits by Katsina State Governor Bello Masari, describing it “political amnesty” without any package.

“When you grant a political amnesty, I mean amnesty in the front of the press and the media but in the real sense there was no amnesty.

“Amnesty comes with a package. The package is you rehabilitate these criminals, you provide for them social amenities. You entice then to leave the forests by providing them with skills. But there is no any project put forward.”

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