- Controversial Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, has again spoken in favour of some of the bandits operating across states in Nigeria
- Gumi condemned consistent description of the bandits as terrorists by many Nigerians and security experts
- The Islamic Scholar made this declaration in a recent interview which was conducted before the proscription of the bandit group by the court
Former military officer and controversial Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, has said that while bandits are committing acts of terrorism, they cannot be referred to as terrorists.
Daily Trust reports that Gumi in an interview granted the newspaper before the proscription of bandits by a Federal High Court in Abuja calls to declare bandits as terrorists were being driven by bigotry and prejudice.
He also said it is unfortunate that many people are referring to bandits as terrorists when in the true fact, they are not in his own belief.
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“That is unfortunately driven by prejudice and bigotry. IPOB is an organization, it does not mean Igbo. Boko Haram is an organization and it does not mean Kanuri.”
“So you can declare Boko Haram terrorists, you can declare IPOB terrorists. In this case what are you going to declare terrorists?"
The Islamic cleric further noted that the term bandit is a vague description and there is no way one could be proscribing the gang or their activities.
Explaining further, Gumi said the European Union and government of the United States of America do not recognize the Nigerian government's proscription of members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) because things are not done that way.
He said since the prescription of the IPOB, its members and leadership have continued to travel all around the world, engage in various activities without being stopped by the world superpowers.
“And in this case, if you say Fulani herdsmen are terrorist because that is the only words you say, you cannot say bandits are terrorists, bandits commit terrorism but they are not terrorists.”
Gumi highlights factors fuelling banditry in Nigeria
Further speaking on the spreading banditry and acts of kidnapping across the country, Gumi said the extrajudicial killing of Nigerians of Fulani extraction needs to stop.
He said in Nigeria today, an innocent Fulani man can be arrested based on mere suspicion of being a criminal and in the process, he will lose his cattle and other livestock.
“So all the people holding guns are now liable to exploit and extort people, either on the government side or the…”
“In fact, they are justifying what they are doing from the experience of their own people at the hands of the rogue security agents."
Noting that all sorts of crimes have been committed against herdsmen of Fulani extraction, Gumi said some security operatives do not have the needed experience to handle conflicts.
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Court rules in favour of FG to proscribe bandits as terrorists
The court in its ruling said the groups engaged in such criminal activities as killing, abduction and many others are now terrorists.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo also ruled that individuals are refrained from associating with these bandits or their activities.
The Sheikh had insisted that providing such a facility for the herdsmen in remote locations would be instrumental to addressing the conflict ideologies of the herders.
Gumi also said that the bandits are ever ready to drop their arms for educational opportunities.