Popular Islamic Cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi has argued that Fulani herdsmen involved in banditry are peaceful people who only victims of circumstance.
Sheikh Gumi who spoke Channels TV programme ,Politics Today, on Monday, noted that the when he listened to the bandits, he discovered that their activities is a “simple case of criminality which turned into banditry,” which, according to him, turned into ethnic war, and some genocide too behind the scene.
The cleric had previously advocated for the bandits to be granted blanket amnesty after meeting them in the bush.
“When I listened to them, I found out that it is a simple case of criminality which turned into banditry, which turned into ethnic war, and some genocide too behind the scene; people don’t know,” Sheikh Gumi said.
The cleric said that while “there is no excuse for any crime; nothing can justify crime, and they are committing crime,” the bandits were forced into criminality.
“I think it is a population that is pushed by circumstances into criminality. And this is what we should look, let’s remove the pressure, let’s remove the things that made them into criminals because we have lived thousands of years without any problems with the nomadic herdsmen. They are peaceful people. But something happened that led them to this.”
Gumi noted that the herdsmen-bandits are engaged in an ethnic war against other peoples, including sedentary Fulani, suggesting that the solution is dialogue.
“It is a complex issue that Nigerians need to understand. The solution is very simple, but it’s not military hardware. The solution is dialogue and teaching,” he said.
“These people are acting with natural instincts, not special knowledge. And they don’t have any ambition or anything. They don’t have a vision of the future. They are talking about existence; their livelihood is destroyed; because the cattle rustling that was going on for a long time, they are the first victims of it.
“So we need to investigate how cattle rustling became a big business in Nigeria and how it affected the socio-cultural behaviour of the nomadic Fulani. They were pushed into criminality.”