Prominent Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, has alleged that bandits learnt the business of abducting people from Niger Delta militants and so should be granted amnesty just like them.
Gumi, who appeared on Africa Independent Television (AIT), on Tuesday, said this while defending the granting of amnesty to bandits behind violent attacks in the northern region of the country.
According to the cleric, only a handful of herders are criminals.
He said many of them took up weapons to protect themselves from extinction after their cows, which he described as their ”oil,” were rustled.
Gumi said, “We didn’t take a different route of trying to solve this problem and that is why we are still here today. And when we say amnesty, we don’t mean that anyone proved to be involved in murder should go free as such.
“They learnt kidnapping from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger (MEND). I do not see any difference. They were the first victims of rustling. Their cattle is their oil. What we are seeing now is more of an insurgency than banditry. I can say 10 percent of the herders are criminals, not 90 percent. In the end, they took up weapons to protect themselves from extinction.
“They themselves can take care of the little remnants of criminals among themselves because they don’t want anybody to bring mayhem to them.”
Gumi had earlier said bandits were planning to acquire anti-aircraft missiles to attack the military.
“In fact, most of the kidnappings, they (the bandits) are doing it to acquire weapons. They are now trying to buy missiles, anti-aircraft missiles. This is already developing into a full-blown insurgency and we should stop that. And what we are afraid of is that if they become religiously radicalised, it will give rise to another dimension, and it will be very difficult to control. You see what Boko Haram has become,” he had said.