Ahmad Gumi, an Islamic cleric has asked the Nigerian government to negotiate with bandits while revealing that they (bandits) are gathering funds to acquire anti-aircraft missiles to protect themselves from security forces.
The Islamic scholar who recently met with some of the bandits in a forest in Zamfara state, revealed this in an interview with Punch.
Gumi who had also pleaded with the federal government to forgive and compensate the bandits who had lost all their possessions to cattle rustling and extortion, added that it is already developing into a full-blown insurgency and should be stopped immediately.
“These people were the first victims of cattle rustling, who lost all their cattle to rustlers because then, the rustlers were having the guns. Then when they lost their cattle, they joined (the rustlers) and they started to kidnap people. In fact, most of the kidnappings, they (the bandits) are doing it to acquire weapons. They are now trying to buy missiles, anti-aircraft missiles. This is already developing into a full-blown insurgency and we should stop that.
“Like I said, they are collecting ransoms to buy weapons. They want their cows, not money. They are doing that (kidnapping) to raise money just to buy weapons to repel helicopters and airplanes and to attack anybody that is going to attack them. You have to understand the psychology of these people.
“When you offer them amnesty, they drop their weapons. Then you go in, build schools for them, build hospitals for them, get them censored; get them registered; then you can control (them).
“You can’t have access to them through the gun. Honestly, they know the terrain in the bush more than our military. So, it is better to negotiate with them.”
The cleric said the bandits have informants in the armed forces who provide them with information.
“They have collaborators everywhere – in the armed forces, everywhere. One of them said, ‘Even this cattle rustling, we don’t have trailers to transport cattle to where they are slaughtered. We don’t have an abattoir.’ So, there are people who are (collaborating with them). Even the kidnapping of the people, they said, ‘We don’t know these people; it is the people in town that will tell us a certain person has money.”