Controversial Islamic scholar, Dr. Sheik Ahmad Gumi, has asked the Nigerian military to provide evidence of bombardment and the killing of two notorious bandits at Zamfara forest last week.
Gumi also insisted that what was required to win the war was dialogue.
The media consultant to the cleric, Tukur Mamu, who spoke on behalf of Gumi, told newsmen in Kaduna on Tuesday that in most cases, innocent lives died during raids by the Nigerian military.
He noted that during one of their visits to a forest in Niger State, bandits showed them a whole settlement that had nothing to do with banditry, bombarded by the air force.
He said, “The simple question is that we should ask ourselves from these reports that they are saying that they’ve bombarded this camp and that camp, is there any evidence on the ground?
“There is a particular forest we visited in Niger State. The whole of the settlement had been bombarded. This settlement has nothing to do with bandits. In fact, they showed us two wells full of innocent people, dead, casualties of these bombardments.
“That’s exactly what these bandits were telling us. They said whenever we hear the sound of an aircraft, we run to our caves and then run. If they will succeed in killing anybody, it is the small children, the wives or the cows.
“That’s their own testimony. So, you can imagine a country where, for example, bandits would gather in a forest and be celebrating. You don’t even have the intelligence to track them and eliminate them. Then, you say you will succeed in killing them.
“I hear them yesterday celebrating the reported death of bandit leader. So, for example, if you kill one bandit leader and another one emerges, what benefit did you derive?
“For example, you killed Dogo Gide, a person more dreaded than him emerged. When they killed Buharin Daji, Turji emerged. So, what’s the success there? And for us to even be celebrating. There is nothing to celebrate, the only thing we can celebrate is that if our military succeeds in crushing them all and they cannot.”
Going into dialogue with the bandits, he said, was not a sign of weakness, noting that the peace enjoyed in the oil-rich Niger Delta, was as a result of dialogue the late President Umaru Yar’Adua entered with the militants there.
“You have to address so many economic issues and so many issues of injustice. And then for you to pursue the path of dialogue. It is not a sign of weakness. That’s what Yar’Adua initiated in Niger Delta.
“Do you think the silence we used to hear now from Niger Delta is because of guns? Is it because of military might? There are many top militant commanders that have been on the payroll of the Federal Government for the past eight years. They are the richest now, top militants, commanders.
“But this is a silent issue that nobody knows. But that is the reason why you can explore oil and then exploit it. The only reason why their own is different is because the Federal Government knows that if they didn’t do something there, it will affect the whole economy. That’s the issue,” he added.
Recall that the pan-Northern socio-political organisation, the Arewa Consultative Forum, through its National Chairman, Chief Audu Ogbeh, had showered encomiums on the Nigerian Air Force over the onslaught that killed the two notorious bandits in the Zamfara forest.
Ogbeh urged the military to sustain the onslaught until the bandits surrendered.
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