By Abu Nmodu Minna
A bandits’ leader in Zamfara State, Dogo Gide has assured that the kidnapped teachers and students of Government Science College Kagara in Niger State would soon be released.
Gide who controls the southern part of the Zamfara forest made the promise when he met with the officials of the Niger State Government under the intervention of a prominent Islamic Scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Mahmud Gummi, in Dutsin Magaji of Kotonkoro forest.
He said although the abductees are not in his camp, he will negotiate with his fellow bandits to hasten their release.
“The abducted persons, whether they were kidnapped by bandits in Zamfara State or any other neighbouring states of Niger, Kebbi and Kaduna will be released soon,” he said.
Dogo Gide noted that Fulanis have been left with no option than to carry arms and also engage in banditry as a result of the pressure they face from all angles.
He cited persistent attacks and killings of the Fulani by the vigilante groups and Yansakai as well as the bombardments of their camps by the military.
Gide assured however that with the intervention of Sheikh Ahmad Gummi they would ensure the release of the abducted persons.
He also promised to accept the peace process being preached by Sheikh Gummi provided that the governors were really serious about it.
Meanwhile, Niger State governor, Abubakar Sani Bello, confirmed yesterday that he met with Sheik Ahmed Gumi to discuss the release of the abducted school children and their family members.
He said at this stage, the state government was open to kinetic and non-kinetic approach to ensure the safe rescue of the students and passengers abducted from the same Rafi local government area during the week.
According to the governor, Sheik Gumi’s assistance came handy because he had been voluntarily involved in interfacing with the bandits in recent times to convince the bandits to lay down their arms.
He said the state government was doing everything possible to secure the release of the school children in a few hours or days.
The governor said since the students and teachers with the members of their families were abducted from Government College Kalgara, the state government has explored all avenues to ensure their safe release.
“The anxiety was naturally high but We have not being sleeping to bring them back by all means safe,” he stated.
The Governor assured parents of the abducted children that the government was doing everything possible to ensure their release, saying “Hopefully, in a few hours or days, we think they will be released; we are reaching the final stages”.
LEADERSHIP WEEKEND reports that Sheikh Gumi had been in Niger State since Tuesday when the students and teachers of Government Science College Kalgara were abducted.
Meanwhile the secretary to the state government (SSG), Ahmed Ibrahim Matane, has appealed to bandits in the state to lay down their arms and embrace dialogue and reconciliation for peace and security to prevail.
Matane made the plea in Dutsen Magaji, Mariga local government area of the state while addressing bandits and their commanders terrorizing the state.
The SSG who was accompanied by the Kaduna-based Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmed Abubakar Gumi, also implored other criminal elements, including kidnappers and cattle rustlers to join in the peace dialogue process in order to put an end to the security challenges that have bedeviled the State over the years.
In furtherance to the peace dialogue, Matane enjoined the commanders to support the government in securing the release of the abducted passengers of Niger State Transport Authority and students of Government Science College, Kagara, noting that the unfortunate incidents in recent days call for sober reflection.
He reaffirmed that the state government would continue to ensure the security of lives and property through strengthening the security architecture of the state.
The SSG stressed the need for religious leaders and other stakeholders to embark on how to get the bandits, kidnappers, and cattle rustlers to key into the peace initiatives of the Government.
On his part, Sheikh Gumi expressed optimism that dialoguing with the Bandits would put an end to the current insecurity in the state and the entire country.
He reminded the hoodlums that Islam is against taking the lives of innocent people and appealed to them to embrace peace by laying down their arms.
The Islamic cleric told the bandits that he would continue to discuss with the state government to explore whatever assistance and support the government would give to them with a view to achieving the set objectives.
Some of the commanders in their separate remarks applauded the state government for the peace process, stressing that it would go a long way in restoring peace across the state.
The bandits appealed to the state government to assist in securing the release of their members arrested by security agencies and detained across the state for the peace process to thrive.
The high point of the meeting was the distribution of Islamic Books to the bandits by Sheikh Gumi to teach them the doctrine of Islam.