Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, a Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, has accused the Nigerian government of bias in its fight against banditry, thereby allowing it to degenerate into a tribal war.
Gumi made his stance known during an interview with AriseTV on Wednesday.
He further established that the bandits are also vulnerable to attacks but often underreported.
“Nigeria is fighting a tribal war and the government is supposed to be a mediator but it is now taking sides,” he began.
“The moment the government begins to take sides, it becomes part of the conflict and this is what I have seen in Zamfara, Niger and other states.”
“The government is taking one side but if we can cross to the other side, listen to the bandits and understand their agitations, the government can cure this problem within a very short time.”
Gumi, who is often criticized for his comments that are supportive of bandits, admitted to the crimes committed by the bandits but questioned whether people had also “gone to the side of the bandits” to see the atrocities committed against them.
“An ordinary herdsman is lynched. We have seen that happening in other parts of Nigeria, including Oyo in Anambra. Their children are decapitated but people don’t look at that,” he said.
Gumi suggested that well-meaning Nigerians should stay neutral in the midst of what he described as “tribal war” rather than allow people to use tribalism and religion to express their grievances.
He added that the government should offer amnesty to bandits willing to surrender their ammunition — an amnesty programme that includes education and job creation.
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