• Warns Islamic cleric against justifying banditry
Northern elders, under the aegis of Coalition of Northern Elders for Peace and Development (CNEPD), have dissociated from recent comments credited to an Islamic cleric, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, wherein he accused the military of triggering the raging banditry in parts of the North.
The Kaduna State-based Islamic cleric, who has become an emissary to bandits in forests across Kaduna, Zamfara, Katsina and Niger states, had alleged that non-Muslim soldiers were killing in some communities in the North.
Leading the Secretary to Niger State Government to negotiate the release of kidnapped pupils of Government Science College, Kagara, Niger State, Gumi was quoted to have said: “What I want you people to understand is, soldiers that are involved in most of the criminalities are not Muslims. There are Muslim and non-Muslim soldiers. The non-Muslims are the ones causing confusion, just to ignite a crisis.”
The cleric had made a similar claim on a national television programme on Tuesday morning, maintaining that the military had allegedly carried out the said campaign between 2010 and 2015.
Consequently, the group said Gumi’s allegations were not a representation of the North’s position but his personal sentiments. While urging the general public to discountenance the allegations, CNEPD vouched for the professionalism and non-partisan nature of the Nigerian military.
In a statement signed yesterday in Abuja by its National Coordinator, Zana Goni, the group vowed to resist attempts by any individual or group to profile the military, which, they maintained, remained the most visible symbol of national unity and cohesion.
According to them, the need for prominent groups and organisations in the North to condemn Gumi’s dangerous claims had become necessary, to give the impression that he was speaking for the region.
This was as they argued that by his statement, Gumi might be justifying banditry and everything associated with the crime, a development, they feared, could embolden the perpetrators.
Worried that Gumi’s action might expose the lives of non-Muslim soldiers to danger, both in the military and their operational theatres in the North, the elders stated: “As Northern elders, committed to an indivisible nation, we hasten to condemn in very strong terms the allegations made against the Nigerian military by one of our leading Islamic scholars, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi.”