From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has accused Islamic cleric Sheikh Ahmad Gumi of being responsible for the emboldening of bandits and their activities in northern Nigeria.
The Christian body demanded a serious search on the activities and intentions of Sheikh Gumi, expressing concern that the security challenges and banditry in the North may be prolonged as the Almajiri system continues unchecked.
Imo State CAN Chairman Rev Dr Eches Divine Eches raised the concerns in an interview with reporters in Abuja ahead of its 45th anniversary and Founder’s Day scheduled for Friday in Owerri, Imo State.
He advised that government should caution Sheikh Gumi whose utterances, he said, have emboldened the bandits, thereby promoting their inhumane acts in the North.
He insisted that, except drastic measures are put in place to curtail the Almajiri system, banditry would remain in northern Nigeria for a very long time with devastating effects on the socio-economic life of the people.
‘You can’t have Almajiri system of life and government in the last 40 years in our nation bringing up people without any trace to families, hometowns or nationalities. These children are scattered all over the street, without you knowing that someday they would leave the street and go to the bush where they would begin to do the trade of kidnapping,’ Rev Eches said.
‘Also, you can’t, in a sane nation, have the likes of Sheikh Gumi, a religious scholar, going about promoting banditry and you don’t think that this will continue. Yet, that is what we are seeing today. We are not seeing anything more than what we have planted.
‘We allowed this thing (insecurity) to continue and it is now going to consume the nation if drastic measures are not put in place to take them (Almajiri) out of the streets. Give them a sense of belonging, put them in school, and help them realise their potentials.
‘These bandits were the Almajiri who used to be in front of our houses and begging. Howbeit, we are praying and that is why God is still sustaining our nation. I trust God will continue to sustain us in Jesus name.’
On the 45th anniversary, Rev Eches said the programme was necessary because it provided an opportunity to remember the labour of past heroes, including over 250 retired church leaders and indigent youth and women across the 27 LGAs in Imo State, who were weak and retired.
‘We give kudos to the Executive Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma, who in his magnanimity provided and partnered with the church for the resources to get this done,’ he said.
‘They laboured to bring to bear what we are enjoying and working on today. We also thought it very necessary to remember the weak among us as most of them are passing through terrible times, especially in such a time as this in our nation.
‘So, we thought it very important that we would use this 45th anniversary of our Founder’s Day to celebrate such a people and remember their labours, and say to them “you deserve to be celebrated both by cash and gift”.’