Why bandits won’t surrender without amnesty – Sheikh Gumi

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Popular Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi says bandits might not lay down their weapons unless they are granted amnesty and assured of their safety.

He stated this Wednesday at a virtual event hosted by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies.

According to him, the bandits have shown they were ready to turn over a new leaf and should therefore not be prevented from doing so.

Gumi restated an earlier comment that the bandits also deserved amnesty as was offered to Niger Delta militants.

The cleric said, “Looking at their educational status, they don’t have any official or unofficial education. How can a nation which is serious about security leave a chunk of its society so uneducated, leave it to arms and drugs? I don’t think that society is serious. How can we disperse them, rehabilitate them because they are holding arms to protect themselves.

“If you don’t show them they’re safe in the larger society, there’s no way they can leave their weapon. And that’s why we asked for amnesty for them just like we had in the Niger Delta.

“I’m not justifying their kidnapping, what they do is crime. But their kidnapping is to get more money to buy more weapons so that they can protect themselves.”

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Reiterating that the bandits’ actions were criminal, Gumi noted that many of them took to that way of life after they were robbed of their cattle but had no one to speak for them.

“Nobody can justify criminality, what we are saying is what we saw in the forest is an ethnic war going on between people in the forest and the neighboring villages and hamlets. When the herder felt he has grievances and nobody was listening to him, he took on weapons.

“So when we went there and they saw a listening ear, they were ready to negotiate, tell us their grievances, and ready to incorporate into the society. So in such a case, I see no reason why we should not have a dialogue with them,” he said.

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