Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State has berated renowned Islamic cleric, Sheikh Abubakar Ahmad Gumi, for asking the Federal Government to grant what he
described as “blanket amnesty” to bandits terrorising the country, particularly the Northwest.
The governor said Gumi has got his priorities right by preaching to the bandits the need to protect the sanctity of human life and stop gruesome murder of innocent residents of communities across the Northwest.
Masari said this in an Interview he granted THISDAY newspaper yesterday.
He stressed that bandits populated most of the adjoining forests in the state and they deserve to be treated as criminals when caught.
He said, “Amnesty for who? Look Gumi is doing it in 2021, we did it in 2016. At least there is something to learn from us. When we started the dialogue in 2016, 95 per cent of the herders living in the forest were not criminals but what is the situation today? Majority of the herders living in the forest today are bandits.
“Gumi should have been preaching to them on the fear of God; to understand the implications of killing somebody but certainly not amnesty because even animals are not allowed to be killed unjustly let alone human beings. He should also let the bandits know the value of their own religion.”
The governor said granting amnesty to bandits is an exercise in futility going by the experience the state had in 2016 and 2019 when he granted pardon to some of the bandits in the hope that they would completely change and start life afresh.
Masari said the pardoned bandits betrayed his government and became enemies of the state, and that were among those fuelling insecurity in Katsina and other states within the North-west zone.
He stressed that most of the bandits are hardened criminals who are set in the ways and would remain incorrigible regardless of the efforts of the government or any non-state actor to reform them.
He said, “For me, I am not surprised because I did it before, twice, so what they (bandits) are telling Gumi is not new to me. They said it and they will continue to say it but concretely they are not promoting any ideology.
“Are we all happy in Nigeria? Does it mean those who are unhappy would take arms against other people? They (bandits) kept on saying they are being marginalised, how many people are marginalised and neglected in Nigeria today? Look my friend, a thief is a thief and a criminal is a criminal. They are criminally- minded and can’t justify killing innocent souls.”
Sheikh Gumi, who in recent time met with different groups of bandits in their strongholds across the forests in Niger, Zamfara and Kaduna States, had called on the federal government to grant amnesty to the terror-bandits who have for long created tension and climate of fear in the North.
According to the Islamic cleric, dialogue and compensation of the bandits remained the only option that could end the spate of banditry, insurgency and other heinous crimes orchestrated by the bandits.
The Islamic cleric noted that the bandits have their grievances as most of them were forced into the act by injustice from security operatives and other groups.