The Buhari Media Organisation on Wednesday advised the Islamic cleric, Sheikh Gumi to “shut up” and desist from distracting the Federal Government with his clamour for amnesty for bandits.
In a statement signed by its Chairman, Niyi Akinsiju; and Secretary, Cassidy Madueke; the group said there was no basis for President Muhammadu Buhari administration to suspend ongoing military operations in the forests of Zamfara State and adjoining areas.
The cleric had been unrelenting in his demand for amnesty for bandits terrorising the citizens in the North-West part of the country.
The statement read: “Like many Nigerians, we are concerned that the Islamic cleric could be vocal enough to say that the bandits were ‘going nowhere’, in spite of ongoing air and ground assaults on their positions.
“Sheikh Gumi has, by those comments, confirmed his description as the patron saint of criminal elements that had for some time held some states in the North-West hostage.
“Is it not strange that a religious leader could be so supportive of bandits that are known to have pillaged communities in the far North, waylaid travellers on highways, kidnapped people including students for ransom, and even ended up killing their hostages after collecting ransom?
“We wonder where the Sheikh was when those who the Zamfara State Governor Bello Matawalle and his Katsina State counterpart, Aminu Bello Masari granted pardon returned to the forests to resume their lives of criminality.
“It is even strange that in a bid to justify the criminal acts of those bandits, Sheikh Gumi went to the extent of drawing an analogy between them and the former Niger Delta militants.
“We know that the comparison was designed to whip up local sentiments in the North-West region against President Buhari, but we dare say that the people have suffered too much in the hands of bandits to fall for his cheap blackmail.”
BMO also commended governors of affected states in the region for collaborating with the Federal Government on efforts to tackle the problem.
It added: “Until now the governors were working at cross purposes, and taking measures that suggested that the bandits were easily moving to other states to commit further atrocities.
“But today, we are impressed that the state governments almost simultaneously announced security measures, including shutting down certain highways, schools and markets, as well as restricting the movement of cattle and bulk purchase of fuel.
“And as it turned out, those measures, including the shutdown of telecommunications services in Zamfara, were a prelude to ongoing military operation tagged ‘Festival of fire’ which from all accounts is going on well.
“We hope that Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, is watching and will take a cue from those governors who took security containment measures in collaboration with the Federal authorities.
“We also commend the defence authorities for showing that Nigerian troops are more than capable to deal a decisive blow on the bandits in spite of the shrill voice of dissent from the Sheikh.
“We invite Nigerians to note that the battle against banditry is in line with the President’s pledge to tackle insecurity headlong and it came after fruitless appeals to those criminal elements to embrace common sense.”
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