Controversial Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi has said that bandits terrorising the country are ready to drop their arms if education opportunities and other basic amenities are provided for Fulani herdsmen at the grassroots.
Gumi stated this while inspecting a school he built at Kagarko Grazing Reserves, Kaduna State through funding from Mosque Foundation Limited.
Gumi, who has been campaigning for amnesty for the bandits said, if the centre which is designed to educate the herdsmen is replicated everywhere in the country, Nigerians will live in peace.
He said instead of spending billions on military hardware to fight the bandits, Nigeria should spend such money on schools and teachers.
Gumi said he spoken with the bandits and they expressed willingness to drop their arms and embrace peace, if their children can be given education and other social amenities.
He said the school project was initiated “to solve the insecurity problem we have from the root because every crime has its perpetrators and every perpetrators are drawn from a pool so we want to go there and dry the pool and we found out that education is the best cure.”
He added that: “If they are educated, they will not be doing what they are doing.
“So, we say we must take education to the grassroots and we embarked on the project to also be an example for others, local government, state and federal and rich individuals even cooperative societies to come together and make sure that we are directed across the forest to know what we can do to carter for nomads.”
He said the centre has six classrooms that would be used for both primary and secondary schools. “If we can duplicate this everywhere Nigerians will live in peace”, he said.
Asked to react to a statement credited to him that “Nigeria will no longer exist if bandits are declared as terrorists”, Gumi said he was quoted out of context.
“It is a quotation out of context. I didn’t say there will be no Nigeria. I said if banditry now has turned into terrorism, fanatical religious terrorism which is there because Islam recognises religious terrorism so if we allow the herdsmen to turn into religious fanatic and extremist it will not be good for us as a nation.”
According to him, “99 per cent of the herdsmen are not into banditry but if you turn it into religious struggle they will just go there committing crime, so it is not good to label them as terrorist because it will profile all herdsmen as terrorist because you are attaching it to herdsmen, you are not attaching it to an organization and if you say herdsmen are terrorist Nigeria will have problem, the whole country will be on fire, the north south and east will be on fire and nothing will remain of Nigeria if everywhere is on fire”. He maintained that, a lot can be done to improve security in Nigeria such as building schools instead of spending billions on military hardware.“Let’s spend it on schools and teachers , even the bandits I have spoken with them as am speaking with you to drop down their weapons to study, so long their women and Children will learn they are ready to drop their weapons, so why won’t we embrace peace”, he said.