Popular Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Abubakar Gumi, has called on the federal government to extend the amnesty proposed for bandits in the North to Fulani herdsmen involved in kidnappings in the South.
Speaking in an interview with The Punch, the Kaduna-based cleric said northern governors, except Governor Nasir El-Rufai, had accepted his reaching out to bandits in the North.
He also stated that the bandits involved in kidnappings in the country were not foreigners, but Nigerians.
Gumi said, “People don’t know the Fulani at all. They are not after money. Even when they are burning houses in Oyo, don’t you see where they live? They stay in huts. They are not into buying flashy cars. They just like their cattle. The money they are collecting from kidnappings, they are buying weapons with them. The more you fight them, the more they fight back. They don’t surrender. They are saying if the air force continues to pester them, they will have to get anti-aircraft.
“Not all of them are criminals; the hard-line (position) taken against them turned them into the militants that they are. They showed me a village, which does not belong to the Fulani, but was bombarded by the air force. A well was filled with dead bodies. The air force killed them because they thought it’s a Fulani enclave, if they are Fulani, what about the wives and children? It is the military that produced these monsters, just like they did with the Boko Haram. We need dialogues with them.
“It should be a blanket amnesty, not only the Fulani. Anybody that is carrying weapons, you give him amnesty. Let’s do it for all these people carrying weapons and Nigeria will open a new page. Don’t be surprised, these Boko Haram people, if you approach them the way you approach these people (bandits), they will listen. If you talk, it is better than all this language of might. Dialogue will give you what violence cannot give you,” he said.
On El-Rufai, Sheikh Gumi described the Kaduna governor as a very intelligent man who will see reasons why negotiation with bandits is important.
“El-Rufai is the only one left. There is no other governor. But he is a very intelligent man, and if he sees reason, he will (key into my mission). I don’t see any governor that will not key in. The more you get close, the more you see reason with these people, and to ask why are they doing it,” he added.