Underfire Islamic scholar Sheikh Ahmad Gumi has advised Nigerians to start using nice words to address bandits and to stop calling them criminals if Nigerians want them to put down their weapons.
The cleric who has been meeting with bandits across the country gave the advice during an interview with Arise TV.
He said, “Even the press are criminals too because they are putting oil into fire. These people are listening to you. You don’t address them as criminals if you want them to succumb. Youths are ready to put down their weapons. Now, they hear you calling them criminals, how do you want them to cooperate?
“So, you have to show them that they are Nigerians, that they should not hurt children and that they should be law-abiding. This is the language we want to hear (from) the press in assisting us in getting the boys.
“When we talk to them with nice wordings, they are ready to put their weapons down, they are ready to listen to us. But when the language is about criminality, about kill them, jail them, then this is what we end up having.”
Gumi also drew parallels with the recent re-emergence of Niger-Delta militants who have threatened to destabilize the nation if their grievances are not immediately addressed.
“You can see the Niger Delta people have already started coming out too to threaten the nation. So, it’s a nationwide problem we have with the youths taking weapon because it gives them a false sense of authority, importance,” he said.
The cleric said the bandits should be listened to, adding that “the language of criminality should be struck out.”
When asked if he believes anybody that kills, rapes, kidnaps and robs people is a criminal, Gumi said “he’s a criminal.”
“But let me show you one thing. If you are stopped by armed robbers on the road, this word criminal, you will not use it on them. You will tell them good things, obey them so that you will save yourself,” he added.
Armed gangs have sprung up across Nigeria in recent times. They engage in armed robbery, kidnapping and other forms of criminality.
Lastweek, while speaking on the recent abduction of students from Government Science College (GSC) Kagara, Rafi LGA of Niger state, Nigeria’s minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed said: ‘After the war, people still sit to dialogue. So if some people have taken it upon themselves to visit these people so that they can embrace peace, I don’t think there is anything wrong with that’.