Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi has said bandits are criminals and are ready to drop their guns but fear that they will be arrested should they surrender.
Gumi while speaking on Arise TV on Thursday night, said criminal herders, also known as bandits, should be granted amnesty like Boko Haram or else, they will commit worse crimes than imagined.
He said, “There are many of them (herdsmen) that have committed crimes but they are willing to drop their guns but they fear they will be subsequently arrested so this is stopping them from surrendering.”
“So, if there’s an amnesty, it will encourage a lot of them as we have seen in Boko Haram; a lot of them are dropping their weapons and surrendering themselves for rehabilitation. Something similar can happen. The North-East Commission (North East Development Commission) or whatever it is they did for the Boko Haram, the herdsmen need something like that too for the repatriation of their loss and the victims of their criminalities.
“We need to reconcile society because this is going into something which is beyond what we saw with the infiltration of terrorists and we fear people who are committing a crime and they know it is a crime. But now if we turn them into fundamentalists, they will be committing the worst crimes than we can imagine.”
Speaking further, the Islamic cleric noted that the killer herdsmen are committing crimes because they feel marginalised in the country
“Yes, they (herdsmen) are committing crimes, definitely they are committing crimes but if we read sociology, we can see that situations can make people commit crimes. In America, we can see how the people are going on a killing spree; it all has a background.”
“As sociologists, people should understand why herdsmen that we have known for centuries, lived with peacefully are suddenly taking arms against the society. It is very important to look at it scientifically and intellectually, not just listen to what people are spreading about it.
“It is more than that and we have seen this agitation in the northeast with Boko Haram and now we are seeing it in the South-East with the IPOB and the Eastern Security Network, they are all agitations that need intellectual analysis and see a way out.”
Speaking on the allegations that soldiers work with bandits, Gumi described the kidnapping business in Nigeria as a big industry with many categories of people working there.
“The banditry we are facing now is an industry, they have informants and they have people of all categories working with them. It’s becoming a big industry but now we can break the cycle by getting these herdsmen who are the foot soldiers and are getting meagre amounts from it,” he said.
He said the government should also establish a ministry dedicated to herders as it was done for Niger Delta militants with the creation of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.
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