…For saying herdsmen learnt kidnapping from N-Delta militants
…Gumi’s statement obnoxious — Edwin Clark
…Irrational, bizarre, outrageous — PANDEF
…Gumi’s remarks disgusting, insulting — Izon Ebi
…Spiritual evaluation needed — Whiskey
…Herdsmen have overrun the country, says Ayemi-Botu
…2 Abia LGs taken over by killer herdsmen, bandits, Reps tell IGP
The comment by a prominent Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, that herdsmen learned kidnapping from Niger Delta militants, has drawn the ire of people of the region who said the Niger Delta struggle is different from the heart-rending crimes being perpetrated by killer-herdsmen in the country.
Lending his voice to the issue, South South Leader, Chief Edwin Clark lampooned Gumi, saying his statement that Fulani herdsmen and armed bandits learnt how to kidnap from Niger Delta militants was not only criminal, but obnoxious and stupid.
These came on a day the House of Representatives told the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, that criminals, including killer herdsmen and bandits, have taken over all roads leading to Isuikwuato and Umunneochi Local Government areas of Abia State.
Gumi had on a live television programme on AIT, said yesterday that bandits and criminal herdsmen learned kidnapping from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, adding that if militants could be granted amnesty, the same treatment should apply to the bandits and herdsmen.
He said: “We didn’t take a different route of trying to solve this problem and that is why we are still here today. And when we say amnesty, we don’t mean that anyone proved to be involved in murder should go free as such.
“They learnt kidnapping from MEND. I do not see any difference. They were the first victims of rustling. Their cattle is their oil. What we are seeing now is more of an insurgency than banditry. I can say 10 percent of the herders are criminals, not 90 per cent. In the end, they took up weapons to protect themselves from extinction.
“They can take care of the little remnants of criminals among themselves because they don’t want anybody to bring mayhem to them.”
PANDEF slams Gumi
But reacting, the Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, two top monarchs and agitators in Niger Delta, slammed the religious leader, Gumi, over his provocative outburst that herdsmen learned kidnapping from Niger Delta militants.
Aside from PANDEF, former national chairman, Traditional Rulers of Oil Minerals Producing Areas of Nigeria, TROMPCON, and paramount ruler of Seimbiri Kingdom, Delta State, HRM Charles Ayemi-Botu; Ovie of Idjerhe Kingdom, Delta State, Udurhie I, HRM Monday Obukowho Whiskey; and 21st Century Youths for Niger Delta and Agitators with Conscience, 21st CYNDAC, also queried the sanity and spirituality of Gumi.
National Publicity Secretary, PANDEF, Ken Robinson, told Vanguard: “PANDEF considers the statement by Sheikh Gumi that herdsmen learned to kidnap from Niger Delta militants and that if Niger Delta militants could get amnesty, herdsmen should get same, as not only irrational, bizarre and outrageous, but a desperate attempt to underplay the horrendous crimes being perpetrated by killer herdsmen in the country.
“What Gumi is invariably saying is that amnesty should be granted to armed robbers, Yahoo boys, sea pirates, bandits terrorizing North-West and parts of North-Central, and to Boko Haram terrorists. Of course, they are, reportedly, even recruiting so-called repentant Boko Haram terrorists into the Nigerian Army. It’s unthinkable.
“Sheikh Gumi could push his ‘one-upmanship’ this far because we are more or less in a rudderless state.
“On a more serious note, the saneness of that Sheikh needs to be interrogated. Nobody in the right frame of mind would make such an assertion, in the face of current occurrences.”
Herdsmen have overrun the country, says Ayemi-Botu
On his part, Seimbiri Kingdom monarch, HRM Ayemi-Botu said: “Tell Gumi to differentiate from Niger Delta militants marauding killer herdsmen, bandits and Boko Haram that have been killing, kidnapping and robbing innocent citizens throughout Nigeria and neighbouring West African countries with impunity and recklessly because President Muhammadu Buhari is the grand patron of herdsmen.
“The three sets of killer squads have the same agenda which is to turn Nigeria to an Islamic state or caliphate, thus completing Usman Dan Fodio’s uncompleted jihad. Under the pretext of cattle rearing, the entire country is under siege and has been overrun by herdsmen from all over West African states.
“Everybody is miffed because the President is nonchalant about the mayhem being unleashed daily until the wicked agenda is achieved. God forbid,” he said.
Spiritual evaluation needed — Whiskey
The Ovie of Idjerhe, HRM Whiskey, in his reaction, said: “If actually the respected Islamic cleric made such indicting statement about the situation in the Niger Delta where oppressed people were fighting for their legitimate survival and drawing international attention to organised conspiracy against our region, then he needs spiritual evaluation to know if he actually represents the institution he claims to represent.
“You cannot and should never compare outright criminality with a regional outcry against institutional conspiracy. If Sheikh Gumi can advocate amnesty for criminal elements like bandits, then the security agencies need to invite him to throw more light on bandits’ operation and possibly their sponsors since he now knows so much about them.
“The country is in a bad state in terms of security and for anybody to justify these criminal activities that have given the nation’s security leadership so much trouble calls for serious concern from all Nigerians, irrespective of tribe and religious background.
“Kidnapping is an international crime that people learn from, watching foreign movies. The question now is where did Niger Delta ex-agitators learn the act of kidnapping from?”
Gumi’s statement disgusting, insulting — Izon Ebi
Speaking for Niger Delta agitators, coordinator of 21st CYNDAC, self-styled “Gen” Izon Ebi, said: “We strongly condemn the provocative statement of Sheikh Gumi that is capable of igniting serious problem in the Niger Delta. It is disgusting, insulting and provocative to compare herdsmen to Niger Delta militants.
“It is a deliberate effort to justify the atrocities of the so-called Fulani mercenaries masquerading as bandits that were imported to dislodge former President Goodluck Jonathan from office. Nigerians know the truth and cannot be deceived by the antics of Sheikh Gumi.
“Nigerians are patiently watching the macabre dance of the Northern elite because of power. Amnesty to bandits will mark the end of the flow of oil and gas from our region.”
Criminal, obnoxious, stupid statement, says Edwin Clark
South South Leader, Chief Edwin Clark has lampooned Islamic Cleric, Ahmad Gumi, saying that his statement that Fulani herdsmen and armed bandits learnt how to kidnap from Niger Delta militants was not only criminal, but obnoxious and stupid.
Speaking with Vanguard yesterday in Abuja, he said: “That statement is not only criminal but obnoxious. How can he say that? The people in the Niger Delta took arms when they found that they have been oppressed, dehumanised, and their rights taken away from them and given to other Nigerians.
“They took all our land. The situation has affected their lives. They take all our money, they no longer go to school, they can no longer swim, they can no longer catch fish. They are fighting for their rights. What did Nigerians do to almajirai or to bandits in the North. Were you not there when they said they are Fulanis from outside Nigeria. So, where did they get it from the Niger Delta people?
“That is a stupid statement, it is obnoxious and criminal. I don’t blame them because they are the people, their governors, their politicians who exploit our oil, they are the senior managers, and zonal managers of oil industries, they are the people who have oil blocs, they have taken away our oil, our people have nothing and at that time the youths decided to take the driver’s seat.
“These people were kidnapping for wrong done to them to attract world attention. Their areas were occupied by military men.
“Their areas are occupied by military men who were stealing their oil. So what are they talking? By killing people, maiming people, raping women? Who told them that our people are carrying AK-47?
“They are very jealous because of the amnesty which they do not deserve. With Boko Haram, they have now created the North East Development Commission, whose money are they using if not money from the Niger Delta? They should stop it.”
‘Criminal herdsmen, bandits’ve taken over roads to 2 Abia LGs’
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has told the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu that criminals, killer herdsmen and bandits have taken over all roads leading to Isuikwuato and Umunneochi Local Government Areas of Abia State.
The House said the criminals were maiming, robbing, kidnapping, raping and killing the people and other travellers, warning that unless urgent steps were taken, the situation might degenerate to chaos and lawlessness.
The call followed a motion considered by the House at plenary yesterday.
Moving the motion, titled “Need to Address the Worsening Security Situation in Isuikwuato/Umunneochi Federal Constituency, Abia State,” the sponsor and Deputy Chief Whip of the House, Nkiru Onyejiocha, who also represents Isuikwuato/Umunneochi federal constituency in the parliament, informed the House that a former transition chairman was attacked in the area.
She said: “There is an increasingly disturbing security situation in and around Isuikwuato and Umunneochi Local Government Areas of Abia State which, unless urgent steps are taken, may degenerate to chaos and lawlessness.
“Virtually all roads that lead to the areas have been taken over by criminals, killer herdsmen and bandits who lay siege on the people of the local government areas, maiming, robbing, kidnapping, raping and killing the people and travellers.
“There has been no single day in the last five months that there were no reported cases of abductions, robberies, theft or some form of criminality in and around the two local government areas and those criminal elements are so audacious that they operate in broad day light and night time, mostly without any interference from security operatives.
“Victims of those murderous gangs range from poor peasant farmers, old and young people, travellers, traditional and political leaders, among others, and a case in point is that of one Mr Obiajulu Okafor who was kidnapped along with his wife and driver, on January 2, 2021, which forced his family to pay a ransom of N22 million to secure their release.
“On October 6, 2020, in two separate incidents, the chairman (Transition Committee) of Isuikwuato Local Government Area and the member representing Isuikwuato Local Government Area in Abia State House of Assembly, were attacked on the same road.
“While the House member was lucky to have escaped unharmed (with a bullet-ridden vehicle), the Transition Committee Chairman paid ransom to regain his freedom from the kidnappers.
“The people of Isuikwuato and Ummunneochi can no longer go to their farms or engage in other means of gaining livelihood for fear of being abducted, raped or killed by herdsmen and criminals who have taken over their farmlands and roadways;
“Unless urgent and drastic measures are taken to halt the tide and combat those criminal elements terrorizing the constituency, calamity may befall the areas as the people may tend to take the laws into their hands, which may lead to a state of anarchy”.
Adopting the motion, the House urged the IGP to prioritize the security of those local government areas and arrest the criminals terrorizing the constituency.
It also urged the various security agencies to collaborate for the purpose of ensuring a safe and conducive environment in the constituency while mandating its Committee on Police Affairs to ensure compliance.
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