Why Abuja train attackers struck – Gumi

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Controversial Islamic cleric, Sheik Ahmad Gumi has explained that the March 28, 2022 attack on an Abuja-Kaduna train was perpetrated by the Ansaru group protesting injustice.

Recall that the infamous attack on the Kaduna-bound train led to killings and abductions of scores of passengers.

No fewer than eight people were killed in the attack, including Barrister Musa Lawal-Ozigi, the Secretary-General, Trade Union Congress (TUC).

The abductees were also released in batches, some after payment of hefty ransom.

The release of the remaining 23 abductees was announced in October 2022, more than six months after they were first abducted.

However, Gumi, who led negotiations that led to the release of many of the victims, said that the group responsible for the attack was initially non-violent and only carved out a small area in the forest for themselves to live ‘pristine lives’ away from the city.

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According to him, the fear of Boko Haram made Nigeria’s security forces to forcefully dislodge the Ansaru group from the forest, arresting their children and other members in the process.

Gumi said that the train attack was the group’s way of registering their displeasure with the Nigerian state and demanding the release of their detained comrades.

The cleric gave the explanation in an interview published by Vanguard.

He said that the group was not a part of Boko Haram.

Asked if the group had any links with ‘Daesh’ (the Islamic State terror group), Gumi said, “I don’t think so. It’s not an offshoot of ISWAP. They call it ISWAP here. It’s an extent of West Africa. I don’t think it is ISWAP or Boko Haram. It is Ansaru. The Ansaru are a little bit different.

“They had to carve out a small area where they could live their lives. And I think they were disbanded, and some of their children were arrested, so they dispersed and got arms to fight back. If you want to demarcate Boko Haram and the ISWAP, they are originally one group. Boko Haram was killing and massacring civilians.

“When the Daesh came, they said “okay let’s follow Daesh and become a subsidiary of Daesh”. They are not Boko Haram. To them, Boko is not a problem. Their problem is that they want to seclude themselves in the forest so that they live their pristine life the way they envisaged it but because of the fear of Boko Haram, the authorities disbanded them.

“When their camp was disbanded, they became armed. They’re not challenging the state. They were challenging wrongdoing by the state. That was why when they took the victims; they wanted their prisoners to be released. You’ve seen the difference now.”

Gumi commended a BBC documentary released in 2022 about young men involved in the terror groups, explaining that such publicity would help to defuse tension.

“Yes, they need publicity in the sense that it will diffuse the tension. One of the leaders of these bandits, because he was given publicity, he publicly came out to say he was agreeing to peace.

“And it was the same thing we did with Niger Delta militants. They had all this exposure. The more we hide and demonize people, the more difficult it is to solve this problem. Because it goes beyond saying this is a criminal. The question is, this criminal is affected too. He has his grievances and he’s armed like you are armed.

“And he can inflict a lot of damage. It is better you sit down and iron out your differences with him. I don’t think government should feel so big-headed when in the first place they cannot prevent such kidnaps,” Gumi said.

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