Popular Islamic Cleric Sheikh Ahmad Gumi said bandits were forced by circumstances into banditry and were only killing as means of revenge.’
He stated that bandits have only killed very ‘few’ persons, and even those killings were often accidental.
Sheikh Ahmad made this statement while speaking on a television broadcast.
He said, “I choose to call them (bandits) militants because they are fighting an ethnic war. They are kidnapping to get money. Look at the case where they released a bus full of people, they were asking for N500 million, but now, they freed them with mere negotiations for free. Nothing was paid. Even one of the victims’ father called me to thank me.”
Gumi, who has been in dialogue with bandits, assured everyone of the safe return of the abductees from the forest of Niger last Sunday.
He said, “Since there is a peace process, they are ready to lay down their arms, stop kidnapping and all the things they are doing. And you call them killer herdsmen; how many people do they kill? Sometimes, they are on drugs. They want the money.
“When they kill, it is mostly accidental; maybe somebody they took who is sick. But tell me who they have killed? How many? Few.”
Ahmad further explains that the bandits were fighting an ethnic war, and most of them speak Fulfulde and Hausa and also have parents residing in the country.
“They are Nigerians, no doubt about that. Some of them have parents in the town.”
“Now, we are not talking about banditry but an ethnic war between the nomadic Fulani, the herdsmen, and the others – everybody who is not them.
“We have an ethnic war; the Fulani feels his existence is threatened. What they do is to call other people from other places. Irrespective of where they are, a Fulani is a Fulani; they go to defend their relatives, that is why they transit the borders and then go back,” he added.