Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, a renowned Islamic cleric, on Sunday met with the released 37 students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Kaduna.
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The students met with Gumi at a reception he organised for them at the conference hall of Sultan Bello Mosque, Kaduna.
Gumi and former president Olusegun Obasanjo were said to have helped facilitate their release.
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Addressing his guests, the cleric implored the students to view their experience as a phase in life and strive ahead instead of dwelling over the incident.
He also insisted that the Federal Government should engage the bandits in dialogue so that they can abandon their ways.
According to him, there is an urgent need for governments at all levels to cooperate in order to resolve the security challenges bedevilling the country.
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He said: “You don’t negotiate with your friend, you negotiate with your enemy.
“The first thing you do is to try and break the ice and break the barrier between you and the person you are negotiating with and also build confidence by demonstrating that you are not going to cheat them or deceive them.
“If there is that level of communication, then negotiation comes in the third phase.
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“These are people who have been involved in this kind of criminality for a long time, we have to use psychology on them because it is not possible overnight to just consent.
“But preaching to them, admonishing them and showing them the way out of their problems helped a lot in getting them to understand and release these children.
“My appeal to government is to engage with the bandits so that the bandits can abandon their ways.
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“They are already showing signs that they ready. They have grievances, which I think if we come together we can cure this menace in a very short time.”
On March 12, gunmen invaded the school located along Airport Road in Kaduna and abducted 39 students.
Ten of them were released in two batches of five after the parents reportedly paid N17 million ransom.
The remaining 29 students regained their freedom on May 5 after spending 54 days in captivity.