Controversial Muslim cleric, Sheik Ahmad Gumi, is someone who has often appeared in the media for his support of non-violent action against northern bandits, much to the anger of many Nigerians. However, a recent statement by the scholar may indicate that he has dropped those notions, after viewing them as being counterproductive to peace.
In a report published by Sahara Reporters, Sheik Gumi decried the level of violence and bloodshed prevalent in the country today, and admonished President Buhari for not doing enough to stop it. He went as far as requesting that the president step away from the seat of power.
He drew attention to the criticism he had leveled against Boko Haram violence in the time of ex-president Goodluck Jonathan, saying that he would not fail to do the same now that his “brother” is in power. He also alleged that the present administration is less democratic than that of Jonathan.
There is also a high likelihood that the violence and bloodshed Sheik Gumi is referring to are the happenings in the north. If the attacks by unknown gunmen in the south were still rampant, it may have been surmised that he was referring to them, seeing that he had previously openly condemned IPOB. At the moment, however, what mainly obtains are attacks by bandits and herdsmen in the north.
Recall that the cleric had earlier stated that what the government needs to do with the bandits is negotiate with them. He described the bandits as herdsmen who turned to crime in a bid to survive, and urged the government to pay ransoms and provide jobs in order to make them turn away from kidnapping.
He had advised against military action, saying that it would only cause more conflict. He had also insisted that bandits were not killers like IPOB militants, but that they only kidnap people. However, other happenings, such as the killing of 5 kidnapped students of Greenfield University by bandit leader Baleri, as well as the downing of a military jet, among others, seem to have made him change his mind.
It is safe to assume that if he were still an advocate of the federal government’s negotiations with bandits, he would not be lamenting the lose of lives caused by the same people. Perhaps Sheik Gumi was truly in search of a peaceful – albeit unconventional – way to solve the problem of banditry in Nigeria, but has come to the realisation that the problem has gone beyond kidnapping to the shedding of innocent blood.
Do you think Sheik Gumi has changed his stance on banditry in Nigeria? Is he now against continued negotiation with bandits?