A coalition of Northern elders on Wednesday dissociated themselves from recent comments credited to an Islamic cleric, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, who had become an emissary for bandits in forests across Kaduna, Zamfara, Katsina, and Niger States.
THE PUNCH reported that during one of such meetings, he alleged that non-Muslim soldiers had carried out orchestrated killings in some communities, precipitating anger.
“What I want you people to understand is, soldiers that are involved in most of the criminalities are not Muslims. You know, soldiers have Muslims and none Muslims. The non-Muslims are the ones causing confusion just to ignite a crisis,” he told a delegation led by the Secretary to the Niger State Government on a negotiation mission for the release of the kidnapped Kagara students.
But the elders under the aegis of North East Elders for Peace and Development said Gumi’s allegations were not a representation of the position of the region, saying the public must see the same as “his personal sentiments”.
While urging the general public to discountenance the allegations, the NEEPD in a statement by its Coordinator, Zana Goni, vowed to resist attempts by any individual or group to profile the military.
According to them, the need for prominent groups and organisations in the North to condemn Gumi’s dangerous claims had become necessary, in order not to give the impression that he was speaking for the region.
By his statement, the said Gumi may be justifying armed banditry and all that was associated with the crime.
They wondered why an Islamic cleric and scholar, who had taken the initiative to discuss with bandits, would end up taking sides, as his statements suggest.
The NEEPD said, “As Northern elders committed to a united and indivisible nation, we hasten to condemn in very strong terms the allegations made against the Nigerian military by one of our leading Islamic scholars, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi.