Following his recent involvements with armed bandits, Northern elders under the auspices of the North East Elders for Peace and Development, have cautioned renowned Islamic Scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi against justifying the criminal elements.
In a statement issued by its National Coordinator, Engr. Zana Goni, the elders expressed fear that Gumi’s recent comments and attitude could further embolden the bandits.
While dissociating themselves from comments credited to Gumi where he accused the Nigerian military of triggering the raging banditry in parts of the north, the elders accused him of making wild and unsubstantiated claims.
The elders vowed to resist attempts by any individual or group to profile the military, which according to them, remained the most visible symbol of national unity and cohesion.
They urged other prominent groups and organisations in the north to condemn Gumi’s dangerous claims to debunk any impression that he was speaking for the region.
“Ordinarily, we would have commended the Sheikh for daring to do what authorities failed but for the profiling comments attributed to him, which we consider abhorrent and unhelpful to national development and peace.
“We insist that our military is one of the finest in the world, with zero-tolerance for partisanship, ethnic consideration and other unprofessional dispositions.
“We warn that comments such as this have the potential of pitting the exposed soldiers against general areas in the North, where they have continued to put down their lives to protect the territorial integrity of the nation from those that seek to violate it.
“Our concern is further hinged on the possibility of the world concluding that the North may be offering tacit endorsement to banditry and associated crimes against society.
“In whatever position we find ourselves, we must, at all material times, endeavour to put the collective interest of Nigeria over and above all other considerations, bearing in mind the fact that when the country collapses, it will do so on all of us, regardless of religion, ethnicity, or belief.
“Lastly, we urge Gumi to stop approbating and reprobating at the same time, and to immediately call-off his mission, if he has developed lethargy in the course of undertaking visits to deep forests”.
The Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, who has been meeting with bandits in forests across Kaduna, Zamfara, Katsina and Niger states, had alleged that non-Muslim soldiers had carried out orchestrated “genocide” in some communities.