Renewed Military Offensive: Bandits ‘going nowhere, battle-ready’

Sheik Ahmad Gumi

Controversial Islamic cleric, Ahmad Gumi, has condemned the current military offensive against armed herders and bandits operating in the North-west region of Nigeria and declared that it would not stop their activities.

Mr Gumi in a long rant on his verified Facebook page on Monday, said the reported military successes against bandits in Zamfara forests will only complicate the crisis.

“Let us face the reality, these herdsmen are going nowhere, and they are already in battle gear, and we know our military very well, so before things get messy, we need cold brains to handle this delicate situation. Its common sense that if you allow your neighbours to be your enemy you are already conquered. Because they can easily be used against you by other forces as we see now the herdsmen are ultimately used to destabilise the region, pauperize and even depopulate it.”

In the statement, which he titled ‘Zamfara: The Flaring of Crisis’, Mr Gumi stressed that the military action “is no solution or wisdom.

“Now with the prodding of the government to take more military actions of an already ugly situation whereby they were left to amass weapons, a huge military budget that is almost draining the economy to a standstill in the purchase of fighter aircrafts (sic) and conducting military operations in the region has become to the authorities in their calculations a necessity.

“Unfortunately, this is no solution or wisdom. When you don’t have the monopoly of the instruments of violence, then dialogue has the monopoly of resolving the conflict.

“This is what the UN is all about. i.e., roundtable resolution of conflicts. What we are seeing is more than just criminals and criminality, yes it may have started as such but like any conflict, it is dynamic.

“Military actions in the past have worsen(ed) the situation stimulating herdsmen resistance. Any more action will push them closer to religious fanaticism. It gives them protection from discrediting them as thieves and also reinforce their mobilization of gullible young unemployed youth as we saw with BH.

“I have met many of the bandit leaders to see a way out of this gridlock. I have talked to the political class and security agents. Except for an exception, most state governors want a peaceful resolution of the conflict. The Police and other security outfits have also realized the enormity of the problem. But, unfortunately, the presidency for what appears to be political gullibility and the military for budgetary reasons as they are the most beneficiary of conflicts of this nature doesn’t seem to be on the same page.”

Mr Gumi is a proponent of dialogue with the bandits despite their bloody imprint in most communities in the north.

He has visited many of them in their forest hideouts and urged the government to dialogue
with the bandits in order to bring an end to banditry in the region.

Zamfara State Governor Bello Matawalle had engaged bandits in his state in dialogue but failed to end the menace. He has now withdrawn from the process and endorsed military actions.

Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai and his Niger State counterpart, Abubakar Sani, are also opposed to dialogue with the outlaws.

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