- The school children and their teachers abducted by armed bandits in Niger state may be released soon
- This is a result of the meeting held with the bandits by a popular Islamic cleric, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi
Sheikh Gumi said the meeting he had with the criminal gangs was positive
A popular Islamic cleric, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi has shared details of his recent meeting with armed bandits in Niger state.
The bandits had kidnapped some students and teachers in the north-central state earlier this week.
Channels Television quoted Sheikh Gumi as saying:
“The outcome is very positive because if you have warring factions and each faction says that I have complaints and grievances which are very simple, I think there is hope.
“The federal government should give them blanket amnesty, then if somebody continues, then we will deal with them.”
The students and their teachers had been held captive in the hideout of the bandits around Bangi forest in Mariga local government area of the state for about 48 hours after their abduction from their dormitories within the school premises.
Gumi had earlier shared photos of him and his team meeting the terrorists and appealing to them to release those held.
Meanwhile, Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara state has declared that not all bandits are criminals.
Matawalle disclosed this on Thursday, February 18, after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He explained that most of the bandits take up arms due to the injustice meted on them by some members of society.
On his part, Sheikh Gumi said bandits learnt kidnapping from the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND).
MEND was on the frontline of kidnappings when expatriates and oil workers were abducted during the height of militancy in the Niger Delta region.
The Islamic cleric said if the federal government could grant amnesty to militants, why can’t the same gesture be extended to bandits.
Jerrywright Ukwu is an Abuja-based senior political/defence correspondent at Legit.ng. He is a graduate of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Lagos and the International Institute of Journalism in Abuja. He is also a member of the Nigeria Union of Journalists. He spends his leisure-time reading history books. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.