Perhaps buoyed by a weakened sovereignty, Sunni Islamic Cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, canvasses amnesty for the bloodthirsty horde involved in the thriving, risk-free, inhuman banditry. Louis Achi situates the emerging chaos
According Professor Aliyu Mohammed, bandits feed their dogs with dead humans. Mohammed, of the Department of Human Physiology, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, should know.
Snatched from his residence at Wusasa area of Zaria, over a month ago, he was recently released from the den of bandits and kidnappers after ransom payment. Tragically, his son Abdulaziz Aliyu was killed during the raid.
Mohammed’s shocking revelation was contained in a recent social media post by Senator Shehu Sani: “Prof. Aliyu Muhammed spent 25 days with bandits before ransom was paid in Zaria. He revealed how the bandits grisly fed human corpses to their dogs & other horrors.
“Those who want to defend these atrocities should please reserve a space in their hearts for the victims & their families.”
Senator Sani further tweeted: “Those who are spraying fragrances on the faeces of these bandits can now see the futility of their action.” There is more.
In the early hours of Friday, gunmen kidnapped over 300 students of Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe, Talata Mafara Local Government Area of Zamfara State. The latest abduction came less than two weeks after armed men broke into Government Science College, Kagara, Niger State and kidnapped many students and staff.
The audacious Jangebe kidnap marked the first time in Nigeria that gunmen would stage large-scale abduction of students from different schools in less than two weeks.
The first major attack on a school by an armed gang happened in Borno State, where over 300 students of Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, were abducted on April 14, 2014.
Four years after, gunmen hit Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State, and abducted 119 students. In December 2020, over 300 male students were abducted at Government Science Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State.
Willy-nilly, banditry and the concomitant kidnappings have become a new quirky normal in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, an angry President Muhammadu Buhari’s warning to the bandits that kidnapped the 300 schoolgirls from Government Secondary School, Jangebe in Zamfara State, was on Friday dismissed as empty words that would yield nothing concrete by activist and co-founder of #BringBackOurGirls, Aisha Yesufu.
Proclaimed a miffed Yesufu: “We are used to a president whose words mean nothing. He says one thing and the opposite happens. Part of the things we should be demanding as Nigerians is that the president should come out and tell us what is going on… The body language of Muhammadu Buhari enables the terrorists, they know that we have an ineffective president as commander-in-chief.”
Similarly, Oby Ezekwesili, former Minister of Education has also accused President Buhari-led government of enabling kidnapping in Nigeria. Ezekwesili while lamenting the strange incestuous relationship that now exists between the government and bandits, claimed that the “friendship has enabled the industry of abduction to flourish in Nigeria on basic market principles of demand and supply.”
Sheikh Gumi, in several interviews, had called on the federal government to grant the bandits blanket amnesty, insisting that the bandits were also victims of injustices brought about by the Nigerian state.
According to him, the armed bandits were responding to the killings of their people by the military and rustling of their cattle by rustlers, without protection from the government. This, he contended, has also affected their economy, thus prompting their resort to crimes. Gumi argued that if the bandits must stop kidnappings then government must provide alternative means of livelihood for them.
But significantly, in a move against Sheikh Gumi’s preachments and blanket amnesty campaign, President Buhari, a fellow Sunni, last Thursday, declared war on bandits and other criminals, who have deepened the security crisis in a nation that’s still battling recalcitrant Boko Haram terrorists.
Buhari, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari at the meeting of Nineteen Northern Governors in Kaduna, Thursday, hinted that his government was not ready to give amnesty to bandits as suggested and vehemently canvassed by Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi.
According to Buhari, “Government will and continue to deal with insurgents, bandits, kidnappers and other criminals, who constitute threat to innocent citizens across the country. Criminals are criminals and should be dealt with accordingly without resulting to ethnic profiling.” In his current campaign for blanket amnesty for bandits and kidnappers, Sheikh Gumi probably might have forgotten that Zamfara was the first northern state to introduce Islamic law after Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999.
In 2000, Buba Jangebe made history as the first Nigerian to have an amputation carried out after the re-introduction of Islamic law after being found guilty of stealing a cow.
Gumi, a former soldier of the Nigerian Army and erudite Islamic scholar is expected to appreciate more than most, that to protect the weak and innocent is an honourable moral and religious imperative. By all metrics, even including esoteric knowledge, it would appear he is crossing the line.
By insinuating to Muslim bandits he has been meeting recently with that their enemies are Christian military officers “outsiders,” is transmitting a highly divisive message, which his authority as a respected cleric amplifies to no end. That’s not nation building or statesmanship.
Significantly, at press time, the nation’s security agencies have not countered Gumi. By even blaming the Niger Delta militants for allegedly tutoring Fulani herdsmen on the fine art of criminality, which the latter has deployed with telling effect across Nigeria, is Gumi genuinely bent on healing the polity? It may then be asked – what really is the Gumi Agenda?
Bloody banditry and kidnapping which are species of terrorism play on fear and terror. The nation simply has to be determined. If Nigeria pulls back by a thumb, she would hand them victory. Beyond Gumi’s curious preachments, the emerging consensus is that there should be no discussion or negotiations. The nation must not yield to blackmail.