Again, the Spokesman of the Fulani herdsmen and bandits, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi has a message for Nigerian government. Gumi says the Fulani herdsmen involved in banditry are ready to negotiate and be incorporated into the society.
“They are ready to negotiate, to tell us their grievances and they are ready to be incorporated into the larger society”, he said.
The Islamic cleric made this disclosure during a virtual meeting hosted by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies. But he did not say which of the bandits he was speaking for — those in Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna, Niger or Benue. We can easily recall one occasion when the bandits struck in Zamfara, Gumi lamented that the kidnappers were different from the ones he had met in the bush earlier
Defending his stance on the touchy issue, Gumi said: “Nobody can justify criminality, what we are saying is what we saw in the forest is an ethnic war going on between some people in the forest and the neighbouring villages and hamlets.
When the herder felt he has grievances and nobody was listening to him, he took on weapons.
“So when we went there and they saw a listening ear, they were ready to negotiate, tell us their grievances, and ready to incorporate into society. So in such a case, I see no reason why we should not have a dialogue with them.”
He added that “If you don’t show them they’re safe in the larger society, there’s no way they can leave their weapon. And that’s why we asked for amnesty for them just like we had in the Niger Delta.
“I’m not justifying their kidnapping, what they do is a crime. But their kidnapping is to get more money to buy more weapons so they can protect themselves.”
The sheikh further stated that the nation must begin to think about the education of the nomads.
Gumi said he sees no reason why a nation that is serious about security will leave a chunk of society so uneducated. He argued that the country has left the people to arms and drugs.
He reiterated that Fulani herdsmen involved in banditry are victims of circumstance, adding that the bandits should be granted amnesty.
Looking at the scenario critically, in saner climes, people like Gumi who hobnob with criminals should be arrested for making the bandits feel important as to want to negotiate with a government and people they have caused so much pain and loss.