Speaking on Channels Television, the former captain of the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA) and renowned Islamic cleric, Sheik Ahmad Gumi, stated that bandits are militants fighting for ethnic survival.
Speaking about his experience with the armed herders, he said: “It is a complex issue. It is an ethnic war and the solution is dialogue and teaching them Islam. To them, they are talking about an ethnic existence.”
The captain added: “They are Nigerians. I hate to call them bandits. They are militants fighting for ethnic survival.
They want to defend themselves. If there is peace, you will not see such things as banditry, kidnapping among others.
If you are talking about victims, they have more victims on their side than others. To them, they are fighting a war of existence.
If you have seen them (herdsmen), you will discover they have nothing like civilization other than the guns they are carrying.
We are trying to talk to them to drop their guns. There are peace processes ongoing and they are ready to put down their arms. They are not killing people; they are just engaged in ethnic revenge.
The Fulani herdsmen are victims of military excesses. The armed herdsmen are kidnapping to make money.”
Moving on, Gumi said, “When bandits go to a Fulani village, they go in groups and ransack the village just to revenge. It is a form of revenge. It is not because of criminality, it is ethnic revenge.
The military knows where they are. When they go in and start killing, the military realised they are creating a monster. The Federal Government should go in and negotiate.”
He emphasized that bandits are not insurgents or members of Boko Haram. In his words,
“I can say categorically that they are not Boko Haram but we have to be very careful.
The Boko Haram we know are internationally connected but so far, they are not Boko Haram; they have some elements of Boko Haram and they presented it to the government.
They are citizens, they recognize the government and they are happy now that Boko Haram is not involved in their cause. We should come in now and give them the full teachings of Islam.”