Aminu Bello Masari, Governor of Katsina State, has said Shekih Ahmad Gumi, a prominent Islamic cleric, should have been preaching to bandits to find their ways back to God rather than advocating for amensty for them.
Governor Masari said this in an interview while responding to a question on Gumi’s suggestion of discussion with and pardoning of bandits in a bid to resolve the insecurity crisis rocking Nigeria, particularly in the northern part of the country.
Gumi had after visiting the camp of some bandits operating in Tagina forest in Niger State as part of negotiations for the 42 persons abducted from Government Science College, Kagara, Niger State, in February said the Federal Government should to give bandits willing to make peace “blanket amnesty” if the current security situation must be tackled.
The Islamic cleric had also earlier this month said there was nothing wrong to pardon bandits in the country if coup plotters were pardoned.
But reacting, Governor Masari, whose state has also had its own fair share of banditry and kidnapping, rebuked Gumi for calling for amnesty to be granted to the bandits.
Making reference to earlier attempts by the Katsina State government to stop banditry, the governor stated that the bandits contravene all resolutions agreed in previous negotiations and return back to the forests to continue their illicit activities.
He insisted that the majority of herdsmen who live in the forests today are criminals, noting that Gumi should, instead, be preaching to them about the implications of kidnapping and killing people.
“Amnesty for who? Look, Gumi is doing it in 2021, we did it in 2016. At least there is something to learn from us,” Governor Masari told Thisday.
“When we started the dialogue in 2016, 95 per cent of the herders living in the forest were not criminals but what is the situation today? Majority of the herders living in the forest today are bandits.
“Gumi should have been preaching to them on the fear of God; to understand the implications of killing somebody but certainly not amnesty because even animals are not allowed to be killed unjustly let alone human beings. He should also let the bandits know the value of their own religion.”
Governor Masari stated that the bandits cannot use the issue of marganislisation to carry arms and terrorise people, noting that a good number of Nigerians are currently unhappy but that has not prompted them to cause chaos in the society.
He stated that nothing can justify the maiming of Nigerians by the bandits in the name of making demands from the Nigerian state and their sub-regional governments.
“Are we all happy in Nigeria? Does it mean those who are unhappy would take arms against other people? They (bandits) kept on saying they are being marginalised, how many people are marginalised and neglected in Nigeria today.
“A thief is a thief and a criminal is a criminal. They are criminally- minded and can’t justify killing innocent souls,” he said.