Islamic cleric Shiekh Ahmad Gumi has said that bandits will not leave their weapons without assurance of their safety through an amnesty programme.
Gumi, according to The Cable, made the remark on Wednesday during a virtual event hosted by the National Institute for Legislative and Democratic Studies.
The meeting was organised to discuss Nigeria’s security challenges.
Gumi according to the report said the government needs to grant bandits amnesty for them to lay down their weapons and feel safe in society.
Gumi said, “Nobody can justify criminality, what we are saying is what we saw, in the forest is an ethnic war going on between people in the forest and the neighbouring villages and hamlets. When the herder felt he has grievances and nobody was listening to him, he took on weapons.
“So when we went there and they saw a listening ear, they were ready to negotiate, tell us their grievances, and ready to incorporate into society. So in such a case, I see no reason why we should not have a dialogue with them.
The Islamic said the bandits were victims of neglect and should be treated the same way as Niger Delta Militants who got amnesty.
He said, “Looking at their educational status, they don’t have any official or unofficial education. How can a nation which is serious about security leave a chunk of its society so uneducated, leave it to arms and drugs? I don’t think that society is serious. How can we disperse them, rehabilitate them because they are holding arms to protect themselves.
“If you don’t show them they’re safe in the larger society, there’s no way they can leave their weapon. And that’s why we asked for amnesty for them just like we had in the Niger Delta.
“I’m not justifying their kidnapping, what they do is a crime. But their kidnapping is to get more money to buy more weapons so that they can protect themselves.”