Controversial preacher, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi has urged Northerners not to vote for politicians that will not negotiate with terrorists, PmnewsNigeria reports.
According to the cleric, bandits are warriors who shouldn’t be killed but negotiated with.
The Islamic cleric disclosed this during one of his recent sermons.
He said: “Don’t vote for those who will fight bandits. The fighters are our warriors in the forest……. Our people in the forest.
“So vote for those who after attaining power will call and negotiate with our people (bandits) so as to give them what they want for peace to reign.”
Gumi has over the years been accused of ‘sympathizing’ with bandits, who have brought untold hardship on families and communities through their violent onslaught, kidnappings for ransom, and mindless killings, but he has denied that.
Rather, he said his concern is for his country, his state, and humanity which made him advocate peaceful dialogue with the bandits.
In 2021, he advised people in the terrorized North-west of Nigeria to treat terrorists branded as bandits with dignity.
Mr. Gumi said people can develop a “mutual relationship with the bandits without being harmed,” PRNigeria reported
“My interaction(s) with the bandits have been easy because I always ‘go through the door’”, the cleric was quoted as saying while delivering a lecture at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
“I go through the door, not the window. If you go through the door, you will go in and come back safely,” Mr. Gumi said, responding to questions from students at the event.
Mr. Gumi said, “if people listen to the bandits, they would become amenable to abandoning their violent ways”.
A student had asked why the bandits did not kidnap him during his numerous visits to their hideouts.
Mr. Gumi explained thus: “When we meet them, we don’t speak, we give them the microphone to speak even for one hour.
“When we first approached them, we saw that they were holding their warrant (weapons) ready to fire. By the time we finished our meeting, they will hand in their weapons and we will be taking pictures.
“So this is the power of human interaction which is what we are here to study as social scientists. That is the approach,” the outfit quoted Gumi as saying.
Mr. Gumi, a retired military officer, said he was able to gain the bandits’ confidence because he “treats them as human beings and respects them”
“That is the respect I give them. I say come, come and sit with me. Come and sit down. I want to hear from you. With that respect, the Fulani man, you can get him.
“So don’t be surprised, if you are nice to him, if you are ready to listen to him, if you are trying to understand his problem, if you put your legs in his own shoes, he will listen to you, you will go to the forest and return safely, God willing,” the cleric said.
Mr. Gumi had visited some bandits in their forest hideouts and advised the government to negotiate with them in order to bring an end to banditry in the region.