“A thief is a thief” – Masari warns Sheikh Gumi against demanding amnesty for bandits

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The Governor of Katsina State, Aminu Masari has advised popular Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, to stop demanding amnesty for bandits.

He said his administration already experimented with negotiating with bandits in 2016 and discovered that it was a futile exercise.

Masari described the bandits as “criminally-minded” persons, noting that Sheikh Gumi should be preaching the fear of God to them and not demanding amnesty.

Katsina is one of the states most affected by the menace of banditry, with over 300 students being abducted in a public school in December 2020.

However, the students were returned six days later.

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Sheikh Gumi has been in the forefront of agitating for “blanket amnesty” for the bandits.

He said that there was nothing stopping the government from granting amnesty to the bandits since it did same to Niger Delta militants.

But speaking with Thisday, Masari faulted the cleric’s call.

He said, “Amnesty for who? Look, Gumi is doing it in 2021, we did it in 2016. At least there is something to learn from us.

“When we started the dialogue in 2016, 95 per cent of the herders living in the forest were not criminals but what is the situation today? Majority of the herders living in the forest today are bandits.

“Gumi should have been preaching to them on the fear of God; to understand the implications of killing somebody but certainly not amnesty because even animals are not allowed to be killed unjustly let alone human beings. He should also let the bandits know the value of their own religion.”

Masari said there was nothing unique in the bandits’ demands, noting that they were not promoting any ideology.

He said being unhappy with Nigeria was not an excuse to take up arms against the state.

“Are we all happy in Nigeria? Does it mean those who are unhappy would take arms against other people? They (bandits) kept on saying they are being marginalised, how many people are marginalised and neglected in Nigeria today.

“A thief is a thief and a criminal is a criminal. They are criminally- minded and can’t justify killing innocent souls,” Masari added.

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