From Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Kaduna based revered Islamic Scholar, Sheik Abubakar Gumi has said that for Nigeria to get out of banditry and achieve peace, the bandits must be forgiven and assimilated into the society.
Sheikh Gumi, a self appointed peace maker between the bandits and the government pointed out that if the country could pardon coup plotters who committed treasonable offence in the era of military administration, the bandits can as well enjoy similar forgiveness even better under democratic rule.
Speaking with newsmen on Thursday in Kaduna to express his reservation over statement against him by Christian Association of Nigeria(CAN) that he (Gumi) has betrayed soldiers of Christian faith before the bandits when he visited them in the forests.
However, the Islamic Scholar said he was misunderstood by CAN because the video that went viral about his discussion with the bandits was distorted and actual message was manipulated.
Sheikh Gumi explained, “These people in the bush who have taken arms, they are criminals. I wonder who is not a criminal. Since Nigeria forgive coup plotters. Forgive even those that killed. Even those that instigated civil war, civil war that millions of people died, I see no reason why we can not accept their repentance. And we can not give them Amnesty. You ask why do we give them Amnesty but they told us specifically that they are ready to drop their arms but they don’t want to be pursue with legal actions. Since that is the bottle neck is only the federal government that can give them that leverage.
“And strangely we found out that they are victims too. They were victims of profiling. So many of them were arrested and punished just for looking like herdsmen. Nigerians should embrace each other and live in peace. We should not try to do anything that will cause havoc. I will also call on the press to desist from sensational reporting because this nation is already in flames. You should be be very careful in what you report. What you see. Continue reporting responsibly and you should not stir the Christian brethren who are known to be peaceful and law abiding. We have been together for long and nobody can separate us, we should learn to live together in peace.
“The press statement by CAN is trying to create commotion by saying that the FG should interrogate me or a statement I made when I was in the forest in Niger state with the leaders of the Fulani herders. I said if they found anything offensive in my statement the best thing to do is to go to court. Not to stir criss. Religious crisis now that the country is in flames is not good for us as a nation. I went to see these militants in the forest to admonish them to leave the criminality which I understand they were forced into it. That is, stealing and doing all sorts of crimes.
“I spoke to them and preached to them and they welcomed my preaching and they told me that 100 percent, they are ready to stop what they are doing. We cannot fold our arms as the security is not the prerogative of government alone but citizens too have a stake. We have to fill in the gab. You don’t need any body’s permission to do that. So we are trying to fill in the gab and see how all these things will stop. Because the nation is suffering. That’s why we went inside the forest trying to explain to them.
“The clip is meant for the bandits not to the public but was eventually released by us. I never thought Nigerians can be mischievous. To create chaos when my sole aim is to seek for peace. So when I saw the release I was taken aback. I reminded them if they forgot history. That the Nigerian Military is well discipline. If we have fifth columnists in the Nigerian Army who attack others not even the Muslims. I gave them example, Nzeogwu, Dimka, etc but you could not find a single Muslim. There are others who committed treason. We all know that treason is a serious offense, breaking the law is breaking the law”.