…By Lola Smith for TDPel Media.
Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, a renowned Islamic scholar based in Kaduna State, has been actively engaging with bandits, kidnappers, and cattle rustlers in the Northern part of Nigeria.
In a recent interview, he shared some of the grievances expressed by these criminals and emphasized the need for dialogue as a way to address the situation.
Sheikh Gumi also discussed the role of the government in initiating violence and the importance of a holistic approach involving various stakeholders.
Bandits’ Grievances: Displacement and Extra-Judicial Killings
According to Sheikh Gumi, the bandits conveyed to him that their primary grievances stemmed from the government’s displacement of them from their ancestral homes.
They also expressed distress over being targeted and bombarded by airstrikes.
Furthermore, they claimed that after surrendering, security forces would capture and kill them in an extra-judicial manner.
The bandits cited the failure of the amnesty program and voiced concerns about the potential infiltration of terrorists among their ranks.
Desire for Basic Amenities and Inclusion
Despite their criminal activities, Sheikh Gumi highlighted that the bandits are not challenging government authority.
He noted their grievances, which encompassed a lack of schools, social amenities, and proper infrastructure such as roads.
They believe they should have a fair share of the national resources, similar to other Nigerian citizens.
Sheikh Gumi warned that if their concerns remain unaddressed, there is a risk that religious terrorists could exploit the situation.
Government’s Role in Initiating Violence
Responding to a question about why the bandits resorted to violence instead of seeking negotiation, Sheikh Gumi argued that the government was responsible for initiating the violence.
He explained that due to the bandits’ lack of education and reasoning abilities, it was unreasonable to expect them to respond differently.
To address the issue effectively, Sheikh Gumi urged the government to establish a strong committee consisting of all relevant stakeholders and adopt a holistic approach to finding a solution.
Holistic Approach to Negotiation and the Role of Various Actors
Sheikh Gumi emphasized the importance of a holistic approach to the negotiation process.
He advocated for the inclusion of the military, politicians, traditional institutions, religious leaders, the Fulani leadership, vigilance groups, and community members in the bush, including women, farmers, and families.
Sheikh Gumi cautioned the government to carefully consider the motives and sincerity of those offering to facilitate negotiations, as some individuals may exploit the situation for personal gain.
Complexity of the Issue and the Need for Comprehensive Resolution
Sheikh Gumi acknowledged the complexity of the situation, citing examples of attacks, counterattacks, and acts of vengeance.
He stressed the necessity of a comprehensive resolution that addresses all aspects of the issue.
If the government engages in a peace dialogue without considering the broader context, it may not yield the desired results.
Sheikh Gumi offered his advisory services to the negotiation team, suggesting that clerics, emirs, military officers, academicians, politicians, and traditional institutions could play a vital role in the process.
Sheikh Ahmad Gumi’s insights into the bandits’ grievances shed light on their motivations and the potential for peaceful resolution through dialogue.
He stressed the need for a holistic approach involving various stakeholders to address the root causes of banditry and ensure lasting peace.
By considering the voices of all parties involved, there is hope for a fruitful negotiation that can bring an end to the violence and create a more inclusive and prosperous society.
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