BEVERLY HILLS, March 05, (THEWILL) – Renowned Islamic Scholar, Sheik Abubakar Gumi, has submitted that Nigeria would escape banditry and achieve peace only when bandits were granted amnesty.
The Sheikh made this known on Thursday in Kaduna while expressing his reservation over the statement made against him by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
The Islamic scholar denied he betrayed soldiers of Christian faith before the bandits when he visited them in the forests of Niger State.
Gumi, a self-appointed negotiator between the bandits and government, said: “I see no reason why we cannot accept their (bandits) repentance and give them amnesty.
“You ask why do we give them amnesty but they told us specifically that they are ready to drop their arms and they don’t want to be pursued with legal actions after they repented.
“If the country could pardon coup plotters who committed treasonable offences in the era of military administration, the bandits can as well enjoy similar forgiveness even better under democratic rule.”
According to him, he was misunderstood by CAN because the video that went viral about his discussion with the bandits was distorted and the actual message was manipulated.
Gumi explained: “These people in the bush who have taken arms, they are criminals. I wonder who is not a criminal. Since Nigeria forgave coup plotters, forgave those that killed. Even those that instigated the Civil War, Civil War that millions of people died, I see no reason why we cannot accept their repentance.
“Since that is the bottle-neck and it is only the Federal Government that can give them that leverage.
“And strangely we found out that they are victims too. They were victims of profiling. So many of them were arrested and punished just for looking like herdsmen.
“Nigerians should embrace each other and live in peace. We should not try to do anything that will cause havoc. I will also call on the Press to desist from sensational reporting because this nation is already in flames.
“You should be very careful in what you report, what you see. Continue reporting responsibly and you should not stir the Christian brethren who are known to be peaceful and law-abiding. We have been together for long and nobody can separate us, we should learn to live together in peace.”
CAN had in statement on Wednesday, by its General Secretary, Joseph Daramola, expressed disappointment with Gumi, over his accusation that soldiers attacking bandits were Christians.
Daramola asked Gumi to recant. He said Gumi’s statement was divisive.
According to Daramola, anyone saying that Christian soldiers were the ones attacking bandits did not wish the country well.
Daramola said: “If anyone said Christian soldiers are attacking communities, that person does not wish this country well and doesn’t want the war against terrorism to end in victory. Gumi’s so-called audio evidence cannot be taken seriously because audio evidence can be deliberately arranged to make a point.
“How can we ascertain the credibility of the person alleging that it was the Christian soldiers that were attacking communities and bandits?
“This unreasonable outburst is not only demoralising and a plot to divide the Nigerian military along religious lines; it is equally, derogatively, portrays the non-Christian soldiers as not committed to fighting criminality.”
CAN hoped that Gumi was misquoted, adding, “But if it was true, then the unity and peace of the country are being threatened by the sentimental statement of this self-appointed negotiator.”
Daramola said bandits were being pampered, with money being made available to them and highly respected politicians and religious leaders speaking for them.
He wondered: “Who truly offended these terrorists? What sin did the people they are attacking and kidnapping commit against them?
“Why should anybody be speaking in favour of the terrorists? Will pampering the terrorists not truly mean they are going to be around with us in the next 20 years as foretold by the immediate past Chief of Army Staff? “President Muhammadu Buhari’s prolonged silence is tantamount to an endorsement of Gumi’s dangerous statement.”