Ahmad Gumi, a prolific Islamic scholar, has stated that the Fulani herdsmen who have been taken to banditry are victims and have been forced into criminality only because of their circumstances.
When he spoke during an interview with Channels TV on Monday, February 22, he shared this opinion.
When I listened to them, I discovered that it was a simple case of criminality that turned into banditry, that turned into ethnic war, and behind-the-scenes genocide, too; no one knows.
For any crime, there is no excuse; nothing can justify the crime, and the crime is committed. They forced the bandits into criminality.
I believe it is a population pushed into criminality by circumstances. And this is what we’re supposed to look for, let’s remove the pressure, let’s remove the stuff that made them criminals because we’ve lived with nomadic herdsmen for thousands of years without any problems. They’re people that are peaceful. But something that led them to this happened.
The issue that Nigerians need to understand is a complex one. There’s a very simple solution, but it’s not military hardware. Dialogue and teaching represent the solution.
Such individuals act with natural instincts, not special knowledge. And they have no ambition whatsoever or anything. They’ve got no vision of the future. They’re talking about life; their livelihoods are being destroyed; they’re the first victims of the rustling cattle that has been going on for a long time.
So we need to investigate how cattle rustling in Nigeria became a big business and how it influenced the nomadic Fulani’s socio-cultural behaviour. They have been pushed into criminality.
Sheik Gumi said, speaking further,
Do you know that there are situations where any person with this Fulani physique is automatically arrested and imprisoned on a motorcycle, slim, light-complexed, even dark ones? They’re being profiled here.
Around him, the Fulani herdsmen see evil. You can imagine when he sees his children, his women, all the killings, the slaughter of his animals.
You see what happened in Oyo, the burning of his hut. Who’s burning his hut down? It’s someone that comes from a building, someone that comes from a car. He doesn’t own a car, he doesn’t own a house, he doesn’t enjoy Nigerian cake at all.
Then you come again, the little thing he’s got, to kill his beasts. So it is from the other side that he sees evil. Thus, each side sees the other side as evil.
So it is the clergy, Muslims and Christians, who now have to come to the centre. We’ve got to listen to them. It is not appropriate to demonise anybody. And there’s evil in everybody.’