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Furore over Sheikh Gumi’s amnesty call for bandits

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Abubakar Mahmud Gumi

Afenifere, MBF, UPU, NCFront, YCE reject the suggestion
• ‘Nigeria should as well compensate armed robbers, other criminals’

Prominent socio-cultural groups across the country have cautioned Federal Government against accepting suggestion by Sheikh Gumi that amnesty and cash compensation be granted to bandits and Fulani herdsmen who have been accused of perpetrating atrocities against Nigerians.

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Among the groups that condemned Gumi’s call are pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere; Urhobo Progress Union (UPU); Middle Belt Forum (MBF), Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) and National Consultative Front (NCFront).

REACTING to Gumi’s suggestion, Afenifere stalwart, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, said it exposed insincerity some Nigerians with regard to finding a lasting solution to challenges facing the country.

“It has to a stage where one is getting weary of talking and shouting. There is nothing in, and for this country again unless it is restructured. Nigeria has broken down, and without the needful done, it will continue to wallop in crisis,” he said.

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The elder statesman wondered why anyone in his right sense and good frame of mind would talk about compensating bandits while nothing is being said about rehabilitating their victims who have either been killed, maimed and raped or their farmlands and properties damaged. What kind of country is this?”

Adebanjo challenged President Muhammadu Buhari to speak on the security situation in the country, saying his silence is an indictment.

“I cannot be convinced that the President is not aware of the atrocities of the bandits. If the north is alleging that the south wants to drive all Fulani away from their region (south), why are we not attacking Dangote and other level headed Fulani nationals in the south or why are Yoruba and Igbo residing in the north not perpetrating crime against northerners in the north? Why must bandits be compensated or granted amnesty? I think Gumi is simply a mouthpiece of some elements in the north,” Adebanjo fumed.

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MBF dismissed Gumi’s suggestion as lacking reasoning and basic common sense.

Spokesman of the forum, Dr. Isuwa Dogo, wondered why Gumi could ask the government to use taxpayers’ money to meet demands of bandits, who have been killing Nigerians.

UPU described Gumi’s amnesty call as senseless, irresponsible and capable of damaging unity and peace of Nigeria if granted.

Publicity Secretary of UPU, Abel Oshevire, said there was no basis for compensating bandits “because they are common criminals who raised arms against their nation, unlike Niger Delta militants who are basically fighting injustice done to them through an exploration of oil in their region which causes damages to their environment.”

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The union further said: “We initially thought Gumi was going to tell the bandits to surrender their arms and embrace peace with the country, not knowing he would be demanding for amnesty. Gumi should be told to tell the bandits to lay down their arms and embrace peace.”

YORUBA Council of Elders (YCE) cautioned Federal Government against pampering criminals under the guise of amnesty.

The elders said the bandits should be rounded up and prosecuted while Gumi, who knows them, should be summoned for questioning.

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Secretary of YCE, Dr. Kunle Olajide, told The Guardian, yesterday, in Ado Ekiti: “As far as I am concerned, bandits are criminals. They ought to be arrested. In fact, Sheik Gunmi who knows them should be called to question.

“Amnesty for what, for herdsmen? Anybody looking at the video of Gumi with the criminal bandits surrounding him with guns should know that is the last thing that should be contemplated.

“In fact, we are still suffering from Boko Haram insurgents that were rehabilitated a year ago by this same government.

“The victims of their dastardly acts are still suffering. They forced many women to become widows, who have been living on charity, yet somebody is suggesting that we continue to use government money to pamper criminals?

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“I am not sure whether we still have a government because this should not be considered at all. We are still worried that abductors of 300 students in Katsina have not been brought to justice.”

A LEADER of NCFront, Dr. Tanko Yinusa, said it was unfortunate Nigeria laid a bad precedent of asking for amnesty for those who raised arms against their country, which Gumi is latching onto.

“It is absolutely unnecessary and unacceptable for any reasonable human being and Nigeria, of course, to imagine amnesty and cash compensation to these bandits when nothing is being said about their victims.”

Yinusa, however, posited that if that would bring about peace to the country as the late President Umaru Yar’Adua did to the Niger Delta militants, let us embrace it.

BUT former governor of Ogun Stage, Chief Segun Osoba, said: “In that wise, let us assemble all the armed robbers and other criminals in Nigeria and start compensating them. No serious government will listen to such suggestion.”

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