Islamic cleric, Sheik Ahmad Gumi, has urged the Nigerian government to take his advice and grant amnesty to bandits for them to lay down their arms.
Gumi was reacting to the killing of three students of Greenfield University, Kaduna by bandits who abducted them from their school.
Speaking to our correspondent on Friday, Gumi said the incident had underscored his position that bandits were now at war with the nation.
The cleric, who was involved in the process that led to the release of students abducted by bandits in Katsina and Niger states, said he was helpless in the case of Kaduna State because the state government had not shown any readiness to negotiate with the bandits.
Gumi, who is from Kaduna State, said the only way he could intervene as he did in Niger and Katsina states was for El-Rufai to reconsider his stance against negotiation with bandits.
He said, “The situation is becoming dire and I need the government’s support before I can do anything, and I think there is a great misunderstanding and poor reading of the situation on the ground. So, I’m really helpless; I don’t know what actually I can do as of now.”
On the students’ killing, Gumi said, “Honestly speaking, it is very unfortunate. There is an ethnic war going on, and I have been saying it. It is a war but if we don’t want to accept that it is a war, we will continue to suffer.
“You cannot predict the behaviour of people who are like that; this is the unfortunate thing and it is the common man that suffers. The way forward is for the government to listen to us, because those people (bandits) are ready to listen to us. If the government will cooperate and listen to us, I think there will be peace but we are finding it difficult to get the government’s attention.”
Likening the situation to the Iran-Iraq war, Gumi added, “We are in a war situation. As we are talking now, they (military) are dropping bombs on them (bandits). You cannot protect your children and you are dropping bombs on the enemies!
“You remember the Iran-Iraq war when they were bombing Baghdad and Tehran and they didn’t care about the civilians. When young girls (and boys) are killed like that, you should know that it is not just criminality, it is beyond criminality, it is a war.”
“There is a lot we can offer but we need the government to cooperate,” Gumi added.