SHEIKH GUMI’S UPHILL TASK DEODORIZING CRIMINALITY
BY UBAKA OKOFU
Sheikh Gumi’s provocative defence for bandits and other criminal elements in the northern part of the country, especially making them look like political agitators or some kind of militants who are entitled to amnesty is most unfortunate and regrettable. His action has further propelled this country closer to the much touted doom days of national disintegration. For a country on a precipice, asking for amnesty for bandits and terrorists that are supposed to be on trial and incarcerated thereafter for the various heinous crimes they had committed against the state and the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is asking for too much. To many Nigerians of discerning minds, Sheikh Gumi has shown that he is not only a religious dispensing machine, but that he is also an ethnic apologist.
From the atrocious threats coming from the likes of Miyetti Allah to the hunting down and killing members of the Eastern Security Network, it’s no longer a speculation that most ethnic components of what still remains as the federal government of Nigeria are waist deep in animosity against one another. The political atmosphere which has since become a muddy morass, is even cloudier and suffocating. With so much suspicion for one another, Nigeria’s unity had never been on a precipice as it is today.
Needless to say that the long drawn war of attrition by northern elites as manifestly demonstrated by the criminality of Fulani herders against those of the southern region of the country has further railroaded us to this point where the drumming of war is both pulsating and deafening.
In the face of this, it will be foolhardy for those in the southern part of the country ( which also include the Igbos of eastern Nigeria) to fold their hands for the second time and helplessly watch themselves being killed by Fulani herders. If nothing, the pogrom against the Igbos during the Nigerian civil war of 1968-1970 should be an eye opener as it should also concern all who harvested heavy casualties from the 30 months long civil war.
One is by no small mean exasperated at the formation of Amotokun and the Eastern Security Network. The writer expects the people of the middle belt region to come out with their own local security arrangements. It would have been a different kettle of fish and indeed this writer would have found these actions condemnable if the security apparatus or architecture of the entire country was anything to depend on.
Sadly, the Nigerian military and the Nigerian police are so submerged and drowned in ethnic politics that those from the southern part of the country feel unsecured to continually rely on a seemingly politicized military. There is widespread talk about the fact that there have been cases where Fulani herders were allegedely apprehended and handed over to the security agents only for such criminal herders to be freed later on even with fresh incriminating evidence from the scene of crime. Thus, the creation of these ethnic security outfits became expedient because the unfederal federal government of Nigeria was being operated by the present administration with so much sentiment, unjustifiable and preferential safe landing for criminally minded Fulani herders.
Ethnic tapestry under the Buhari government has taken a dangerous dimension. The only reason we have not seen the mass kidnap of school children and sundry criminality in the south is because down south, such mission would be suicidal given the preparedness and security consciousness of the people of southern Nigeria who are not leaving any stone unturned to protect themselves. Let me quickly add here that the southern region of Nigeria is also situated in a frightening distance away from the Sahel which is, and still a safe Heaven for terrorists and bandits. The question remains, how did we get here as a nation? What most Nigerians do not know, or are either too shy to own up to, is the fact that there was no country in the first place. Nigeria is only a country on paper without mutual respect and tolerance of all component groups.
Every inch of the way, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi appears to be in the news for the wrong reasons. Although, he had severally denied the role of a negotiator between bandits and the federal government of Nigeria or the three governors of Niger state, Zamfara and Katsina state, or both, signs are that Sheikh Gumi is on a mission to save the north from the humongous and breathtaking carnage taking place there. It’s evident until this writer is proven otherwise that Sheikh Gumi may have been detailed by either of the Presidency or some northern governors with an exception perhaps being made for Nasir El Rufai who is openly now completely averse to the idea of negotiating with common criminals as bandits.
Sheikh Gumi has made Nigerians a butt of jokes by genuflecting before bandits all in the name of peace. His insidious role in negotiating the freedom of kidnapped innocent school children in exchange for amnesty has painted this country in a bad light before the international community. Nigeria is now a place where no life matters except those of bandits.
Gumi wants amnesty and rewards for criminals. In his infamous argument, Gumi posited that: ‘ if the country could pardon coup plotters who committed treasonable offences in the era of military administration, the bandits can as well enjoy similar forgiveness even better under democratic rule.’ He went further to argue that even those who instigated the Nigerian civil war where millions of people were killed had also been forgiven.
Sheikh Gumi didn’t say that millions of people who died during the civil war were Igbos of the crushed Biafra. More annoying is the fact that Sheikh is of the view that bandits were victims of wrong profiling. One wonders if Gumi is not aware that the Sahel has become a route of criminal elements into the northern part of the country. If Gumi is not enjoying the support of the Presidency, with what effrontery would he have said that unless amnesty was extended to bandits, Nigeria would not know peace? It’s Sheikh Gumi’s view that like the bandits, all Nigerians are criminals. He said, rather menacingly: “ Bandits are criminals, I wonder who is not a criminal in this country”. I think Gumi should be arrested and his association with bandit criminals investigated.
South Sudan, Liberia, Somalia, Rwanda and several other war torn countries are familiar examples of how deep ethnic animosity if not properly managed has ended up in civil war which may end in disintegration of warring groups. Whichever way the pendulum swings, mutual trust which is often the fibre of national unity might have broken down in Nigeria. And it is sad.
President Muhamadu Buhari of Nigeria