Following recent reports credited to Islamic cleric, Ahmad Gumi, a coalition of Northern elders, on Wednesday, dissociated themselves from the Sheikh who has been visiting bandits in Kaduna, Zamfara, Katsina, and Niger States.
Gumi recently alleged that non-Muslim soldiers had orchestrated killings in some communities, a development that forced bandits to take up arms.
“What I want you people to understand is, soldiers that are involved in most of the criminalities are not Muslims. You know, soldiers have Muslims and none Muslims. The non-Muslims are the ones causing confusion just to ignite a crisis,” he told a delegation led by the Secretary to the Niger State Government on a negotiation mission for the release of the kidnapped Kagara students.
However, the elders under the aegis of North East Elders for Peace and Development (NEEPD) have distanced themselves from Gumi’s comment, saying his views does not represent that of Muslims in general.
The NEEPD, in a statement by its Coordinator, Zana Goni, called on the public to disregard the allegations and vowed to resist attempts by any individual or group to profile the military.
The Northern elders said by his statement, the Gumi may be justifying armed banditry and all that was associated with the crime. They wondered why an Islamic cleric and scholar, who had taken the initiative to discuss with bandits, would end up taking sides, as his statements suggest.
The NEEPD said:
“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 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 hinged 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 absolve the 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.”