By our Correspondents |
The apex northern socio-cultural group, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai, yesterday rejected the proposal by renowned Kaduna-based Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmed Gumi, that bandits should be compensated.
Gumi had recently made a call to the federal government requesting compensation as well as amnesty for bandits in exchange for peace in Zamfara State.
He made the call after visiting the bandits’ camps in Zamfara State where he had gone to persuade and encourage the bandits to embrace peace.
Specifically, Sheik Gumi who is a native of Zamfara State said for peace to return in the state and the country at large, the federal government may need to compensate as well as grant amnesty to the bandits to pave the way for them to surrender their arms.
But the national publicity secretary of ACF, Emmanuel Yawe, kicked against the move, saying bandits should never be compensated under any guise.
He said, “I am surprised Sheihk Ahmad Gumi is recommending compensation to bandits after all the destruction of property and loss of lives to innocent citizens caused by their criminal acts.
“If he talks of amnesty I can understand since something similar was done in the South South. But to compensate people who have caused the havoc visited on society by the bandits is beyond reason”.
Similarly, Kaduna State governor, el-Rufai, told Sheikh Gummi not to waste his time convincing bandits to lay down arms and embrace peace, pointing out that they won’t change.
Governor el-Rufai who spoke on BBC Hausa monitored in Kaduna averred that such efforts may be an exercise in futility as the criminals are used to getting big money and will not repent.
The governor reiterated that Kaduna is at war with the criminal elements, saying, “My administration is at war with the bandits and so we cannot negotiate. Eliminating them is the only solution to banditry.”
He said the Islamic scholar was wasting his time as there won’t be any forgiveness and compensation for bandits.
He stated: “I never believed that a Fulani herdsman who ventured into banditry and is collecting millions of Naira as ransom will repent. I spoke to Dr Gumi who is my friend. I explained that the majority of these bandits don’t believe in the religion. That is why they kill mercilessly.
“Anybody who thinks a Fulani herdsman that was used to only getting N100,000 in a year, after selling a cow, but now is getting millions through kidnapping for ransom will stop, is only wasting his time.”
On the synergy to confront the criminal elements in the region, the governor lamented the division amongst governors in the North West region.
According to him, while some of the governors prefer dialogue with bandits as a solution, he and others do not see that as a solution.
He said, “We the governors lack unity among ourselves in this region in working as one to neutralize the bandits. We in Kaduna and Niger States are talking on how to end the problem. The governor of Niger state called me and we are discussing. Anybody that thinks a Fulani man that ventured into kidnapping for ransom and he is earning millions of Naira would go back to his former life of getting N100,000 after selling a cow in a year, must be deceiving himself.
“Why should they be compensated after killing people they destroyed their houses. Who offended them? Ahmad Gummi is my friend and this is what I told him.
“I told him that the majority of these Fulani bandits don’t believe in religion. Therefore, I don’t believe in what he is doing, that they should be forgiven and compensated, if any bandit is arrested in Kaduna state, the bandit will be killed because Kaduna is in war with bandits. They kill without mercy, they don’t believe in the religion.”
Arewa Youths Back Dialogue With Bandits
But the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF) threw its weight behind Sheikh Gumi’s call for dialogue and compensation, insisting that dialogue with bandits, if it can solve the present security problems facing the north, especially the North West, will be a welcome development.
President of the Arewa youth forum, ), Alhaji Yerima Shettima, in a chat with LEADERSHIP said, “If dialogue can yield positive result leading to ceasefire there is no problem to it because in reality our security agencies are over stretched and it seems there is nothing much they can do than what they have done before. Based on the situation on ground, if dialogue can work, it would be fine.
“What I’m saying is that dialogue is not the option but considering the security challenges we are facing now, if dialogue can work to solve the problem, then it is okay. Dialogue is temporal”.
Demand For Compensation Criminal, Unrealistic, Says Afenifere
Also, the apex Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, yesterday described Sheikh Gumi’s demand for compensation for bandits as criminal and unrealistic.
Afenifere’s national publicity secretary, Yinka Odumakin said, “Ahmad Gumi’s call for compensation for the bandits in the North is a call from supporters of bandits. These are bandits unleashing terror on Nigeria; they are criminals that should be prosecuted.
“Why should somebody say a budget should be allocated to them? Where will the money come from? The money with the federal government is allocations meant for the state. Is he now saying the states resources should be shared among the bandits? If they want money for them, they should go and source the money from Sambisa forest.
“It is illogical to compare the bandits with the insurgents in the South South. What the people of South South agitated for was development of their area because much money was realised through oil exploration in their area and their communities were not developed.
What are the bandits agitating for? It is criminal to say money should be allocated to them.”
PDP BoT Chair Hails Sheik Gumi, Urges Leaders To Join Peace Efforts
But chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Sen Walid Jibrin, yesterday urged other religious leaders and leaders of thought to intervene in the security crisis rocking the northern region.
Jibrin stated this while commending Sheik Gumi on his visit to the bandits aimed at finding a lasting solution to the insecurity in the North.
The PDP BoT chairman said, “I want to congratulate Sheik Gumi for the effort he is making to ensure peace returns in the region.
“I want other religious leaders and leaders of thought to join their efforts to ensure that peace is restored to the region and Nigeria. We want peace so that development can thrive in the nation”, he added.