Islamic Cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, who has been having peace meetings with bandits in some parts of the country, has said that the Fulani herdsmen who have taken to banditry are peaceful people and that they are victims of circumstance.
Sheikh Gumi shared this opinion when he spoke during an interview with Channels TV on Monday, February 22.
“When I listened to them, I found out that it is a simple case of criminality which turned into banditry, which turned into ethnic war, and some genocide too behind the scene; people don’t know.
There is no excuse for any crime; nothing can justify crime, and they are committing crime. The bandits were forced into criminality.
I think it is a population that is pushed by circumstances into criminality. And this is what we should look for, let’s remove the pressure, let’s remove the things that made them into criminals because we have lived thousands of years without any problems with the nomadic herdsmen. They are peaceful people. But something happened that led them to this.”
It is a complex issue that Nigerians need to understand. The solution is very simple, but it’s not military hardware. The solution is dialogue and teaching.
These people are acting with natural instincts, not special knowledge. And they don’t have any ambition or anything. They don’t have a vision of the future. They are talking about existence; their livelihood is destroyed; because the cattle rustling that was going on for a long time, they are the first victims of it.
“So we need to investigate how cattle rustling became a big business in Nigeria and how it affected the socio-cultural behaviour of the nomadic Fulani. They were pushed into criminality.”
Speaking further, Gumi said
“Do you know that there are situations where any man with this Fulani physique – slim, light-complexioned, even dark ones – on a motorbike is automatically arrested and incarcerated? They are being profiled.
The Fulani herdsmen is seeing evil all around him. You can imagine when he sees his children, women, everything killed, his animals slaughtered.
You see what happened in Oyo, his hut burnt down. Who is burning down his hut? It is somebody coming from a building, somebody coming from a car. He doesn’t own a car, he doesn’t own a building, he doesn’t enjoy anything of the Nigerian cake.
Then you are coming, again, the little thing he has, to kill his animals. So he is seeing the evil from the other side. So each side is seeing the other’s side as evil.
So it is the clergy that now has to come in the middle, Muslims and Christians. We have to listen to them. Demonising anybody is not appropriate. And evil is there in everybody.”