A prominent Islamic cleric, Ahmed Gumi, has again canvassed amnesty for bandits wreaking havoc across the north of Nigeria, saying those he met in the past have repented.
Mr Gumi was at the forefront of the negotiation with the bandits who kidnapped Government Science College students in Kagara, Niger State, early this year.
He also led a delegation to visit bandits in their forest bases in Kaduna and Zamfara States for what he said were peace talks.
However, his demand for blanket amnesty for the bandits has been criticised by Nigerians who feel bandits deserve punishment for their heinous crimes.
But in a recent interview monitored by a PREMIUM TIMES’s reporter, the cleric reiterated his call for amnesty.
“All those we met, all of them have stopped being involved in this kidnapping. The ones doing it now are rogue ones who we did not sit down with,” he said.
Mr Gumi did not provide evidence for the claim. But he decried the refusal of the “authorities” to support his mission.
According to him, the process of “sitting down with” other bandits was stalled by “authorities” who do not want it.
“Our processes were arrested and stopped by the Authority, which is not interested in it.”
When asked about the perceived injustice on victims of the bandits with the demand for amnesty, Mr Gumi said he has been a victim of banditry, too.
He said his brother was kidnapped and almost five million naira was paid as ransom to rescue him.
“My very close relative…One of the life time driver of my father. His son — a soldier – eleven of them were ambushed and killed,” he added.
“So, I am a victim of banditry. Then, should I seek revenge and more and more soldiers will die or do I forgive so that most souls will be saved?”
“So, I think it is logical… It is better to stop the more killings and have peace.”
PREMIUM TIMES had reported how 239 were killed, 44 kidnapped in separate incidents last week.