From Okwe Obi, Abuja
The federal government appears to be under pressure to grant amnesty to bandits ravaging the country, with the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) backing Sheikh Ahmed Gumi’s stance on the matter.
The group argued that when Niger Delta militants took up arms against the country, previous administrations set up the Ministry Niger Delta Affairs and other amnesty programmes geared towards meeting their demands, adding that it was not out of place for the government to repeat same approach to Fulani bandits.
CNG spokesman Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, addressing newsmen in Abuja, further supported the Amalgamated Union of Foodstuffs and Cattle Dealers of Nigeria, who had resolved to halt movement of goods to the South until compensation are given to northerners who have suffered attacks in the region.
‘We align directly with Sheikh Ahmed Gumi’s position with regards to constructive engagement, opportunity for amnesty leading to reorientation, reintegration and re-assimilation of those who embrace peace within a reasonable time frame after which resort can be made to force in crushing the recalcitrant ones,’ Suleiman said.
‘In this regard, we urge the Sheikh and his team not to be distracted by the forces of destabilisation within and outside the North, while calling for an expanded framework for negotiations with the involvement of all willing northern governors and other significant components of the northern society in order to achieve final demobilisation and disarmament.
‘Successive governments have found it expeditious to establish structures like OMAPADEC, NDDC, Ministry of Niger Delta, the Amnesty Programme, etc aimed at resolving a specific set of challenges affecting specific communities in the South.
‘There is, therefore, no justification whatsoever to resist, or even question the extension of similar special initiatives to address the needs of herdsmen if these will lead to lasting peace and stability.
‘It is important to place on record that all those working against the proposal for engagement towards peaceful resolution of the conflict by singling Sheikh Ahmed Gumi for attacks and irreverent treatment, are those who directly benefit from the conflict through proceeds from supply of arms and drugs, or remotely, in the hope of riding to power on its back.’
Suleiman warned southern leaders who feel that fomenting trouble or inciting violence against other regions would help them produce the President in the 2023 general election to desist from it, warning that it would only compound their predicament because the North in particular would not cave in to threats and intimidation.
‘All those self-appointed enemies of the North who have no other useful vocation other than attacking northerners and their properties under the slightest of pretexts, should know that the North is not unaware of their design and shall no longer remain passive under deliberate and sustained attacks and unwarranted provocation,’ he stated.