‘Nigerian Air Force, Army Have Been Hard On Bandits, Killing Their Wives And Families’ – Sheikh Gumi

Prominent and controversial Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, has expressed his views on the Nigerian military’s strategy in combating banditry in the northern region of the country.
Gumi, who spoke during a recent X space organized by Daily Trust, said that the military’s approach, which includes ground and air strikes by both the Army and Air Force, has resulted in the unfortunate loss of lives, including those of the bandits’ families.

According to him, these attacks have further fueled the bandits’ anger and perception of the situation as a full-fledged war.

Speaking on the topic of ending Nigeria’s recurring abductions, Sheikh Gumi emphasized the need for a non-kinetic approach to effectively address the activities of bandits in the North.

He said: “To them (military) they are fighting a war. Honestly, the military has been very hard on them, the Air Force is killing their families.

“When you think of synergy, you can’t rule out the military, but there has to be synergy. Let the non-kinetic approach be in the front. When it fails, then the kinetic can come in.

“And in fact, it will come in a better position because the non-kinetic approach will give access to better intelligence, better knowledge, and that kind of intensive engagement in negotiation.”

Bandits, Niger-Delta Militants Doing The Same
Gumi, who has engaged with bandits in the forests on multiple occasions to discuss the release of hostages, drew a parallel to former President Musa Yar’Adua granting amnesty to the Niger-Delta militants, which effectively halted the abduction of foreign workers.

The cleric pointed out that just as militants sabotaged oil pipelines in the past, bandits are now disrupting farming activities, leading to food shortages, and kidnapping innocent individuals for ransom.

He said: “The change that I would recommend is that there should be a strong committee about it. In the same way, there was a similar thing happening in the Niger Delta, whereby militants that were attacking foreigners and our military and killed policemen; all these happened no more when the (former) president decided to give them amnesty… and it worked.

“Niger Delta is relatively peaceful (today). And these warlords are now the ones guarding our pipelines, and they are living their lives normally. A similar version, we can do with these bandits.

“The common factor is that the Niger Delta militants were vandalising our petroleum, which is a good source of national income, but also the herdsmen militants are stopping people from farming. Farming is also a very important source of our GDP. And I see that comparisons the way we deal with the Niger Deltans to also deal with these people the same way.”

Additionally, he mentioned that at one point, the bandits expressed their dissatisfaction as they fulfilled their part of the agreement, yet the government failed to deliver on its promise of providing borehole water for their community.

“Some people are very pessimistic about it, that it was tried in Katsina and Zamfara states but it failed. I would tell you that it was not wholeheartedly executed because when we went to one camp, the bandits were telling us in front of government officials that they had fulfilled all ten conditions (given to them by the federal government)…and yet the government has not fulfilled its own which is a borehole they requested.

“And for me, that has been in direct contact with them, in the presence of our authorities. I know you know that authorities are aware. Now, I know this can get to President Bola Tinubu to let him understand. Look, a lot of Nigerians have been saying that we need a non-kinetic approach to this problem because it is socio-economic things in it… if you say you will use the military is like killing a fly with a hammer. It will just worsen it and cause a lot of collateral damage that is avoidable,” he added.

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