Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, the Islamic scholar who has been in the news lately for his role in negotiations between government and bandits, has explained that President Muhammadu Buhari’s shoot-on-sight order against armed criminals was the impediment to negotiations with abductors of the kidnapped students of Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Kaduna.
Gumi revealed that he had gotten knowledge of the leader of the kidnappers of the students through bandits he came across in the forest while on a peace mission but has found it difficult to make contact with the kidnap kingpin owing to the subsisting shoot-on-sight order.
He said during his earlier visits to the hideouts of the bandits, he met more than 80 percent of their leaders. He said but for the lack of encouragement from some government officials, he would have met all the leaders to persuade them to lay down arms to pave the way for peace.
He said: “If we had encouragement, we would have met all the leaders. All those we met usually offered to support us to negotiate on our behalf, just like what happened in Niger State. Presently, our ability has reached the extent that we can identify who is involved in any criminal act.
“We have identified the leader of those who took the students but he has never attended any peace meeting with us. Those groups we met identified him but we could not reach out to him because of the security implication since the government gave a shoot-on-sight order and then the government said no negotiation. So, I don’t want us to go into the bush and the government will think we are encouraging them.”
He continued,“What I think is for the government to just relax and allow us to follow these people to teach them how to behave, admonish them, and then negotiate so that they’ll stop this thing. We are doing this for ourselves not for the government or any political party.
“We don’t want politicians to mess up our land because they will come and go while we remain here, God willing. So, we are not doing it for political reasons, we are doing it for ourselves so that we stop killing each other.”
While reacting to Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s rejection of negotiations with criminals, he said: “I cannot change the state government’s stand on negotiation and ransom payment. All I want from them is to allow us to continue discussion with the bandits.”