Sheikh Ahmad Abubakar Gumi, a Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, says bandits are coopting herdsmen and paying them a daily allowance of N50,000.
“In a nutshell, we are in trouble…,” he said in an interview with the International Centre for Investigative Journalism (ICIR). “Ansaru (terrorist group) is like an offshoot of Boko Haram. They are not Fulani, but they’re using herdsmen who have been recruited as foot soldiers, and I heard they’re paying them N50,000 everyday.”
Gumi, in recent years, has become popular for his peace-making missions to various bandits’ dens.
In the interview, the cleric argued that banditry in Nigeria cannot be won with weapons.
“We don’t have the outfit to fight them, it is a socio-political issue,” said the cleric. “The army are only meant to give you the power and backing to do it.”
Gumi stressed that banditry can only be thwarted if the government is ready to negotiate and listen to their demands.
Speaking on the victims of the Kaduna-Abuja train attack, he said: “The government has left families to pay ransom. Government should put a round figure for everybody to be released, then sit down with them (terrorists) to negotiate.”
The cleric also argued that the terrorists are not fighting the citizens but the government, only that the citizens are their “soft target.”
Further speaking on the victims of the train attack, he said the terrorists had shown humane and civilised manners by releasing a pregnant woman as well as arranging the negotiation of the children involved. The gesture, Gumi said, implies they are not beyond negotiations.
When asked about the effectiveness of the strategies employed by the federal government to curb insecurity so far, he said: “The problem Buhari has is that he doesn’t listen. If he takes you as an enemy, you are an enemy. He is not a politician. But these people (terrorists) are politicians. You can sit down and negotiate with them and show them light.”