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Northern elders have told urged Islamic cleric, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi to immediately abort his mission of mediating between criminal bandits and the government if he has developed lethargy in the course of undertaking visits to deep forests

The elders were reacting to the recent comments credited to Gumi, wherein he accused the military of triggering the raging banditries in some parts of the North.

Gumi has in recent weeks constituted himself into an emissary, meeting with bandits in forests across states in the North.

And in one of his outings, the cleric had reportedly said that non-Muslim soldiers had carried out orchestrated killings in some communities, precipitating anger.

Gumi was said to have stated this while leading the Secretary to Niger State government on a negotiation mission for the release of kidnapped school children of Government Science College, Kagara, Niger State, Gumi was quoted to have

Consequently upon this, the Northern elders said Gumi’s allegations were not a representation of the position of the region, saying the public must see same as personal sentiments of the cleric.

The Northern elders’ statement was signed by their National Coordinator, Engr. Zana Goni, where they vowed to resist attempts by any individual or group to profile the military, arguing that by his statement, the cleric may be justifying armed banditry

They wondered why Gumi will resort to taking sides after taken the initiative to discuss with bandits, adding that his action may expose the lives and safety of non-Muslim soldiers to serious danger.

“As Northern elders committed to a united and 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.

“We rise in one voice to dissociate ourselves from the dangerous and divisive allegations levelled against our patriotic soldiers by Sheikh Gumi, in one of his missions to meet with bandits in a forest around Niger State.

“Ordinarily, we would have commended the Sheikh for daring to do what authorities failed, but for the profiling comments attributed to him, which we consider abhorrent and unhelpful to national development and peace.

“We insist that our military is one of the finest in the world, with zero-tolerance for partisanship, ethnic consideration and other unprofessional dispositions.

“We warn that comments such as this have the potential of pitting the exposed soldiers against general areas in the North, where they have continued to put down their lives to protect the territorial integrity of the nation from those that seek to violate it.

“Our concern is further andhired on the possibility of the world concluding that the North may be offering tacit endorsement to banditry and associated crimes against society.

“To douse this tension, therefore, we call on relevant authorities, including prominent individuals and groups from the North,to condemn Gumi’s position in a manner that will absolvethe region of conspiracy and vicarious liability, in the long run

“In whatever position we find ourselves, we must, at all material times, endeavour to put the collective interest of Nigeria over and above all other considerations, bearing in mind the fact that when the country collapses, it will do so on all of us, regardless of religion, ethnicity, or belief.

“Lastly, we urge Gumi to stop approbating and reprobating at the same time, and to immediately call-off his mission, if he has developed lethargy in the course of undertaking visits to deep forests.”

Gumi had during a recent interview on national television said that bandits are peaceful people and victims of circumstances who were forced into criminality.

Bandits are peaceful people, victims of circumstances – Sheikh Gumi

He called on the government to adopt a more lenient approach in handling bandits, arguing that attacking them brings out ‘monster’ in them.

While making case for the criminals, the Islamic scholar also explained that while bandits are citizens who recognize the government, Boko Haram terrorists are internationally connected.

He insisted that bandits are Nigerians who want to defend themselves and fighting for ethnic survival stressing that the only solution to end banditry is through dialogue and teaching bandits Islam.

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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