No School Will be Safe Until Govt Negotiates With Bandits, Says Gumi
Sheik Gumi has said no school will be safe until the Federal government negotiates with bandits.
According to Sheik Abubakar Gumi, a respected Islamic cleric, there are around 100,000 armed bandits in the North-West alone.
The bandits abducted schoolchildren, according to Gumi, were upset that he bargained with them without involving the Federal Government.
No school could be safe unless the government engaged with the herdsmen, according to the Islamic cleric.
During an interview with The PUNCH on the kidnapped students of Tegina Islamic School in Niger State, he revealed these things.
The bandits initially sought N200 million from the parents of the victims, but this was eventually reduced to N150 million.
Despite efforts to free the students, Gumi said the bandits were resolute in their demand for money.
“But we’re trying to persuade them that these are simply innocent schoolchildren,” he remarked. We have no notion what the children’s conditions are like. We’re only stating that these are young children who are attempting to study and have done nothing wrong, so why are you attempting to extort dirty money from their families?
“This (the kidnapping of Islamic students) demonstrates to the nation that the bandits are not truly indoctrinated; they are simply hunting for money, and I believe that this is a good prediction. They aren’t after a religion or ideologues, both of which are difficult to deal with. We must remember that they are not educated in any way, official or informal. They were just going about their business with cattle when they discovered a great way to make money.
“However, people will abandon this work if they have strong engagement, education, and enticements such as jobs and other things. However, we require a partner and for the government to comprehend our situation. Individuals like me cannot do it alone.
“With the exception of one who is kidnapping again, everyone we met has quit kidnapping, and he told us why: he was neglected and he thought we had the authority to negotiate. He said he was going back to his business when he realised we didn’t have the mandate from anyone.
“As a result, the sooner we start engaging them, the better. You may engineer those who have consented to lay down arms to take care of the rest.”
Gumi stated that the Niger State Government had made steps to free the children, but that the state’s finances were limited.
He claimed that the government could not protect schools unless it first found a way to halt the country’s banditry.
“Why not use bandits to secure schools?” Engage them; there aren’t many of them. They’re easy to count with your fingertips. How can you keep schools safe? This isn’t feasible. There may not be more than 100,000 bandits in the entire North-West. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. That is referring to those who have weapons; not all of them have weapons. Ninety percent of those with guns use them to defend themselves from livestock rustlers. They, too, are victims. Aerial bombardments will simply exacerbate the problem because, if you start killing their children, you have to realise that they also have ours,” he continued.
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