*Gumi’s comments challenge FG’s authority — ACF
*He’s a security threat to Nigeria — Ohanaeze
*His advocacy for bandits uncalled for — Afenifere
*Bandits’re terrorists, no more, no less — MBF
*Arrest Gumi now — CAN
By Clifford Ndujihe, Dapo Akinrefon, Peter Duru, Luminous Jannamike & Ibrahim Hassan
The major ethnic groups, yesterday, gave renowned Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmed Gumi, hard knocks for opposing declaration of bandits as terrorists on the ground that doing so could cause holy war and worsen Nigeria’s insecurity, a high price he said the country could not afford to pay.
Those who criticised Gumi include the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF; the Pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere and the Middle Belt Forum, MBF.
Apex Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, and the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, also joined the fray.
Sheikh Gumi had, on Tuesday, warned that foreign jihadists would come into Nigeria if the federal government declared bandits terrorists.
In a statement, Gumi urged clerics in the South to engage secession agitators, such as Sunday Igboho and Mazi Nnamdi Kanu of IPOB, the way he was engaging bandits in the North.
He had said: “The only helpful part that is against bandits is that no other than them are attracted to join them in the North-West because of its ethnic tinge and colouration.
‘’However, the moment they are termed terrorist – Islamic for that matter— the direct foreign Jihadist movements will set in, in force, and many teeming unemployed youths may find it palatable and attractive.
“Shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ plus AK-47 against a ‘secular’ immoral society where impunity reigns are the magnet for extremists and the down-trodden – the majority of our youth.
“This will give criminality a spiritual cover and remove the stigma of discrediting them with such crimes since now they are fighting a ‘jihad’as they will claim.
“In such a situation, does the larger society – as it is — have the moral high ground to fight back?
“This is the most probable consequence, the price of which is not worth it.
“Nothing stops the kinetic actions from going on without the controversy of semantics.’’
Gumi’s comments challenge FG’s authority – ACF
But reacting to Sheikh Gumi ‘s assertion, the National Publicity Secretary of Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, Emmanuel Yawe, said on phone yesterday: “It is left for the government to work out a way of managing Sheikh Gumi.
“This is a man who is supposed to be an Islamic leader, but has moved into areas that have more to do with politics and insecurity than religion.
“His last testament that Nigeria will cease to exist if the Federal Government declares bandits terrorists is very unfortunate.
“It is a direct challenge on the legitimacy and authority of Buhari’s government.
“It is left for government to act to restore its legitimacy and authority.”
His advocacy for bandits uncalled for — Afenifere
In its reaction, the Pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, faulted Gumi’s advocacy for bandits, saying it is uncalled for.
Rising from a meeting yesterday, the National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Mr. Jare Ajayi, said the group noted with serious concern the festering insecurity problems in the country.
“We joined the National Assembly and several others who have been talking on the matter, that those who have been kidnapping and killing the people be declared terrorists and treated as such.’’
He continued: “It is unfortunate that the attitude of the authorities on the issue of security in the country has not succeeded in stemming the increasing rate of insecurity in the country.
“On the contrary, bandits and terrorists kept getting emboldened to perpetrate their nefarious activities.
“It is ironical that some individuals could be seeking clemency for terrorists who are maiming and killing people without any thoughts for the victims.
“It goes without saying that whoever deodorizes or abets evil is culpable.
“Afenifere frowns on the consistent advocacy by Dr Ahmed Gumi for the government to pardon terrorists and even compensate them in various ways.
“It is uncalled for. In the hope that those concerned will act fast and effectively.
“We advise every community to be on the alert, with a view to ensuring that terrorists do not take over.”
Bandits’re terrorists, no more, no less — MBF
On its part, the Middle Belt Forum, MBF, said the claim by Sheik Gumi that declaring bandits terrorists would come at a price was unacceptable, describing it as a threat to dissuade the Federal Government from dealing decisively with the band of criminals.
National President of MBF, Dr. Bitrus Pogu, in a chat with Vanguard, yesterday, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to live up to his primary responsibilities as enshrined in the constitution to ensure the protection of the lives of Nigerians aa well as ensure the welfare of the people.
His words: “Some people assume too much. They seem to believe that these people (bandits) are supernatural beings, which is totally wrong.
“They are just ordinary people. And by saying what he said, Sheik Gumi is just threatening the Federal Government not to deal with them decisively and we cannot accept that.
“People who have killed in cold blood, and attacked innocent communities in their sleep should not be allowed to go free.
“And of course, people who can shoot down aircraft, who would blow railway lines, who would do all sorts of things more than even Boko Haram are terrorists by any definition.
“Nobody should be frightened by what Gumi said. Nigeria can deal with these terrorists because our military has the capacity.
“What I believe is happening is that there is no political will to dislodge these groups.
“Going by what the President said in 2014 to then President Goodluck Jonathan that he was killing his people, they are being mild toward these criminals and the time has come for President Buhari to be the statesman that he is and the leader of the country.
“He should defend the constitution which says his primary objective of governance is the security and welfare of the people.
“He has to provide that security by dealing with these criminals that are occupying unguarded and unoccupied spaces and killing and terrorizing our people.
“So they should be called by the name they deserve, which is terrorists and should be dealt with as terrorists.”
Gumi’s a security threat to Nigeria – Ohanaeze
Also speaking, the National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia, said with his comments and roles in the polity, Sheikh Gumi remained a threat to Nigeria and should be treated as such.
H e said: ‘’I describe the man as a security threat to Nigeria. He is an Islamic cleric. To that extent, he is supposed to preach peace but his role in social life is completely at variance with what he preaches.
“Such people are more of security threat to the country, a green snake in green grass and a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
‘’For one to lead, relate or communicate with a group, that person must be a member of that group. That is the implication.
“If he is claiming to be a communicator or mediator of that group, one of the conditions to play that role is, he must be one of them.
“Therefore, the Nigerian government should hold him for who he is.’’
Arrest Gumi now, CAN tells FG
Also reacting yesterday, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, challenged the Federal Government to immediately arrest the controversial cleric.
The umbrella Christian body told Vanguard that security agencies should also swing into action by investigating the claim made by the Muslim scholar that declaring bandits as terrorists by the government would come with a price.
CAN’s Director of National Issues and Social Welfare, Bishop Stephen Adegbite, said: “The Federal Government appears to be treating Sheikh Ahmed Gumi with kid gloves.
“It’s unfortunate and we are worried, disappointed, and pained that he would make such a bold statement unchallenged.
“But the Church will no longer keep silent. Enough is enough. We will take him up word-for-word, henceforth.
“The Federal Government should do the needful and arrest him. Is Gumi the owner of Nigeria?
“What effrontery has he to challenge the verdict of the people that the bandits are the enemies seeking to destroy our nation?
“Someone must call him to order. He must stop issuing threats to Nigerians and Nigeria. Gumi should be behind bars.”