Between Sheikh Gumi, bandits and the military


Toluwalope Kareem

I hate to say this but Nigeria is fast becoming a theatre of the absurd. When one thinks one has seen it all with the violence and insecurity in different parts of the country, someone would come up with a weak strategy and believe it can bring peace. If not sheer hypocrisy, how could an Islamic scholar and cleric, Sheikh Gumi, who is neither a soldier nor security operative of any kind, visit bandits in the forest effortlessly, yet our almighty security forces cannot seem to locate them. It is even more galling that Gumi has been trying to paint the bandits in a positive light and portray them as victims.

These are the same bandits that have killed many innocent people, turning children to orphans and wives to widows. When they don’t kill their victims, they kidnap and subject them to unimaginable torture. In their greediness, they demand exorbitant ransom from their captives. Indeed, their atrocities are limitless, even as they have brought everlasting grief to the lives of many.

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I wonder on what basis Gumi wants the bandits to be granted amnesty.

As if that was enough, Gumi attempted to teach journalists their jobs be berating them for calling the criminals ‘bandits’ like they really are. Left to the cleric, the bandits should be treated with kid gloves and pampered like spoilt kids. He actually said, “They are Nigerians. I hate to call them bandits. They are militants fighting for ethnic survival. They want to defend themselves. If there is peace, you will not see such things as banditry and kidnapping.”

In what is fast appearing like a macabre comedy, Gumi also reportedly told the bloodthirsty bandits that non-Muslim soldiers were responsible for killing them. That stamen by the hitherto respected scholar has no doubt put non-Christian members of the armed forces in danger. By his statement, was Gumi implying that the bandits should see those soldiers as enemies and kill them whenever they have the opportunity.

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I find it surprising that the military has not come out to defend its personnel against Gumi’s claims, which would inadvertently put them in harm’s way.

That leads me to ask: is Gumi above everyone else in Nigeria? If Gumi is not above the law, he should have been invited for questioning by security agencies. He needs to take responsibilities for the incendiary remarks he made.

In a country with several security apparatus, why is Sheikh Gumi the one marching to the forest to bargain with bandits?

When gunmen recently abducted about 42 persons, including 27 students, from the Government Science College, Kagara, Niger State, Gumi was the one who went into the forest to negotiate their release.

If Gumi is not connected to the bandits in ways we don’t know, he could he have boldly marched into the forest to have meetings with them? Are our military officers not capable of meeting the bandits?

Nigerians are looking up to the military to protect them but sadly, the military seems to be looking up to Gumi like a defence minister of sorts.

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Why should Gumi put pressure on the Federal Government to enter into negotiations with terrorists if he does not have any ulterior motives? Anyway, I refuse to believe that the military does not know where those bandits are.

If bandits are candidates for amnesty, then other criminals should be pardoned and we should know we live in a banana republic with no laws.

I rather think the full weight of the law should be brought to bear on the bandits and they should be made to answer for their crimes.

  • Babatunde Qodri.

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