The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) has warned prominent Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi to stay away from the South-South over the statement credited to him that Christian soldiers are responsible for banditry and violence in the country.
PANDEF in a statement released on Wednesday also called on the federal government to declare Gumi’s submission on the matter as hate speech.
It will be recalled that Gumi had accused non-Muslim soldiers of launching attacks on villages and communities leading bandits to seek vengeance.
Speaking to bandits in a now-viral video online, the Islamic leader claimed – without evidence – that the soldiers are stirring confusions with the aim of wreaking havoc.
Later, he released an audio to back his claims that Christian Soldiers killed Muslims to cause division in Islam.
But PANDEF in a communique on Wednesday signed by the members of its board of trustees – Chief Edwin Clark, former Akwa Ibom State governor, Obong Victor Attah, and Senator Emmanuel Ibok Essien, condemned the position of the Islamic cleric and expressed their disagreement with his statement, noting that Gumi’s statement was wrong and inciting, capable of destabilizing the peace in the country.
The statement reads: “PANDEF calls on the Federal Government to declare the inflammatory statements by Sheik Gumi on the activities of the terrorists and bandits, including inciting them against Christian soldiers and equating them with Niger Delta agitators as ‘Hate Speech’ and take urgent measures to caution him.
“Furthermore, PANDEF assures law-abiding Nigerians of a peaceful stay in all parts of the South-South but strongly warns criminal groups and their sponsors to stay away from the zone in their interest.
“The BOT condemns the expanding activities of Boko Haram, the audacious attacks by bandits, rampaging activities of Fulani herdsmen and the recent upsurge in the kidnapping of innocent students in Kakara, Niger State, in Jangebe, Zamfara State, and scores of innocent women, children, and travellers from around the country.
“PANDEF, however, commends the effort of security services in securing the release of some of these abducted persons but calls on the Federal Government to redouble efforts to its constitutional obligation to protect the lives and properties of all Nigerians.”
On the refusal by Northern cattle breeders and businessmen to move farm produce from the North to the South, PANDEF warned that such moves are counter-productive and promised to work with leaders from the region to resolve the face-off.
“We remind those behind such an agenda (blockade of foodstuffs from the North to the South) that other regions also can enforce similar blockades of other critical natural resources and produce,” the forum stated.
It added that, “PANDEF reminds the Federal Government that all geopolitical zones have now accepted the merits for restructuring and true federalism. It must, therefore, show the will and courage to take immediate steps to give the country a rebirth through restructuring for peace, security, and development.”
Earlier, Naija News also reported that the youth wing of the Ohanaeze group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council (OYC) has called on security operatives to arrest Sheikh Ahmad Gumi immediately.
This is as the youth wing of the Igbo socio-cultural group alleged that the popular Islamic cleric is providing support for terrorists troubling Nigeria and deserves to be arrested with them.
The OYC in its submission also condemned the statement credited to Gumi in a recent interview with BBC pidgin, where he was reported to have compared late Igbo leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu with the bandits.
Similarly, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has accused President Muhammadu Buhari of supporting the position of Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi by keeping silent on remarks credited to the cleric.
CAN in a statement on Wednesday said the President should have called Gumi to order over his statement where he claimed Christian soldiers were the ones killing Muslim bandits and insurgents to cause problems in the country.
The Christian umbrella body also called on Gumi himself to withdraw his statement in the interest of peace and unity in the country.
CAN went ahead to describe the submissions by Gumi as “unpatriotic and divisive utterances.”
Source: Naija News