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Don’t dialogue with terrorists, El-Rufai, others warn

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El-Rufai. Photo: TWITTER/GOVKADUNA


• Gov pushes confrontation, rejects Gumi’s peace deal • Amnesty for bandits is criminal, say Yoruba leaders
• Rights group attacks minister for backing cleric • IYC, CLO, IPOB, SOKAPU want bandits arrested, prosecuted
• Miyetti Allah declares support for Gumi

The stance of Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, against holding dialogue with bandits and criminal herdsmen gained widespread support yesterday, as regional groups and individuals slammed the idea.

The rejection of parley with criminals came as the Senate asked Federal Government not to be involved in resolving herdsmen conflicts with communities.

A foremost Muslim cleric, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, had proposed peace deal with kidnappers terrorising the country, especially the Northwestern zone.

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Gumi had led a group of Muslim clerics and law enforcement agents to bushes in the Central and Southern Senatorial districts of Kaduna State to meet with communities of Fulani herdsmen allegedly breeding the main population of kidnappers and bandits in a bid to persuade them against vices.

Gumi’s plan is to strike a deal with the herdsmen to end criminal activities and to forward their grievances to the authorities for resolution.

But El-Rufai, in an interview with BBC Hausa, argued that a Fulani herdsman that used to earn N100,000 every year through sale of cattle but now makes millions of naira from kidnapping would find it difficult to give up the heinous act.

Bandits killing people and burning houses, he added, should not be pardoned. The governor blamed lingering criminal activities on lack of cooperation among some Northwest governors in the fight against banditry

“Kaduna has been on the same page with Niger State governor in the fight with bandits. We discuss measures to fight insecurity with Niger, but some other states are doing things differently.

“Some states are saying bandits should be pardoned and there should be negotiation. They believe if we sit down and dialogue with criminals, they will discontinue their old ways and that is the difference between us. When some governors said they will negotiate with bandits and others disagree with that, that is where the problem is.”

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No sooner had El-Rufai made his position known than Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) and Civil Liberty Organisations express their support for him.

The Worldwide President of IYC, Peter Igbifa, in an interview with The Guardian said the best way to fight criminality is to stop it permanently by getting the bandits arrested and prosecuted to serve as deterrent to others.
 
He said: “It makes no sense to grant pardon to bandits because kidnapping has become a very lucrative business, the best way to fight it is to stop it permanently; if we don’t, any other step will be encouraging the monster to grow.
 
“Some of these peace processes don’t help, because if you bring out the bandits, they will pretend to have repented, and then go back to the bush. Of course, they will not return the actual arms; they will just go to the bush and bring some toys while the real AK47 is still hidden there and any little money given to them for the  peace deal, they will rather use it to beef up their arms.”
 
Also South South Zonal Leader of CLO, Stiv Ogbodokwe, argued that the herdsmen had committed heinous crimes, stressing that the best way to end the menace was to get the bandits arrested and prosecuted.

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), also yesterday, joined the list of those against the proposed negotiation with criminals.

It particularly chided the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed for backing Sheikh Abuabakar Gumi’s meeting with bandits.

The National Coordinator of the group, Emmanuel Onwubiko, said as people like Lai Mohammed attempt to continue to shield and cover them up, under the pretence of government using some back channels to address the security challenges in the country, the killers will continue to have a field day.

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“For the umpteenth time, this Lai Mohammed has expressed this government’s lack of sincere goodwill in addressing the issues of insecurity in the northern part of the country.”

Similarly, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) dismissed any peace deal with bandits. IPOB, which accused Gumi of comparing bandits with freedom fighters like Biafra and Oduduwa Republic said the cleric had either lost touch with reality or was being economical with the truth.

IPOB, in a statement by its Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, said it was unfortunate Gumi could not differentiate between “self determination which is a constitutionally guaranteed right and terrorism which is a crime.
He said: “I oppose any idea talking about granting amnesty to a group of criminals.”

More opposition to Gumi came from a former President of Southern Kaduna People’s Union, (SOKAPU), Solomon Musa, who declared that no government should negotiate with bandits, just as Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) declared its support for the cleric

Musa said that any government negotiating with terrorists, who had maimed, raped and killed innocent people, would only be giving a stamp of approval to the illicit act committed by them.”

Secretary-General of MACBAN, Mr. Usman Baba, in an interview with The Guardian commended Gumi.Baba said: “We are strongly behind him (Gumi) and we are appreciating what he is doing. We plead that all stakeholders to support him because what he stated is a good decision in the right direction.”

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WHILE the debate for or against dialogue raged, Senator Yahaya Abdullahi, in an interview in Abuja, said the Federal Government should not play any role in resolving such matters.

The Presidency had opposed a recent directive by the Ondo State Government that criminal Fulani herdsmen who were not registered with it should quit Ondo forest reserves.

President Muhammadu Buhari, through his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, expressed its disagreement with the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu.

But the Senator observed that “the Federal Government is too distant to resolve every communal dispute everywhere. Inter communal dispute should be resolved by the people in the area.

He said: “I think these issues should be resolved at the local level either through dialogue or give and take. They are people that lived together; they should come together over dialogue at the local level.”

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