Despite all the atrocities committed by the bandits in the northern part of Nigeria, controversial Islamic cleric, Sheik Ahmad Gumi, has continued to advocate for negotiation to be used in dealing with them instead of military action. He recently solidified this stance in a lecture at Ahmadu Bello University, where he insisted on dialogue being used with the criminals. He insisted that the reason he has not been harmed by the bandits is because of this approach, and he encouraged the government to do the same.
Photo credit: The Whistler.
As we all know, this line of thought is nothing new with Sheik Gumi as, true to his words, he has been in regular contact with the bandits and come to no harm. Be that as it may, this article seeks to look at 3 reasons engaging in dialogue with the criminals is bound to fail, contrary to the cleric's reasoning.
Photo credit: Desert Herald.
1 The use of dialogue has been attempted before.
There once was a time when the government was keen on holding talks with the bandits, in a bid to find a solution to the problem of kidnapping. A good example is the case of Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara state who, as recently as February this year, was an advocate for dialoguing with the bandits. However, he would quickly find out that it was an exercise in futility.
Photo credit: The Guardian Nigeria.
After granting amnesty to certain members of the bandits, only to have them return to their evil ways; coupled with the worsening insecurity situation in the north courtesy of the criminals, Governor Matawalle quickly changed his stance. Now, he is in support of military action against the bandits and it is unlikely he will be willing to try dialogue again.
2 Foreigners have gotten mixed up with the bandits.
According to Sheik Gumi, times were when the bandits were made up of frustrated Fulani herdsmen, who fell victim to cattle rustlers and turned to banditry in a desperate bid to protect themselves. However, the same can not be said for the current set of criminals plaguing the north. Numerous sources have provided evidence that foreigners have infiltrated the bandits, and are now a huge source of worry for the populace.
Photo credit: The Guardian Nigeria.
A report from Niger state recently stated that some fleeing bandits, who were gunned down by the military, had flowing hair like women - a trait not found among Nigerian Fulani. Additionally, President Buhari has blamed the violence caused by herdsmen on Fulani from other countries surrounding Nigeria. Samuel Ortom, Governor of Benue further strengthened this argument when he said that bandits arrested in his state spoke French and hailed from Niger Republic and Mali. What good will dialogue do when a good part of the criminals are not even Nigerians, but foreigners with alien interests?
3 State conquest appears to be the goal of the bandits.
A chronological study of reports on the activities of the bandits indicate that they have moved past merely kidnapping school children, to abducting military personnel, killing people indiscriminately and attempting to gain more territory. In the last few weeks, military camps have been taken over by the criminals and states have been forced to disable communication in order to impede their activities.
Photo credit: NDlink.
States that serve as prime examples here are Zamfara and Katsina, which have been said to be overrun by bandits at one time or another. If attempting to overthrow the government has become the new aim of the criminals, it stands to reason that dialogue will do little or nothing to change their minds. What began as banditry has embarked on an even darker journey toward full scale terrorism.
What are your thoughts regarding this article? Can dialogue still be used with the bandits? Tell us your opinion in the comments section below.
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