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By Fidel Ozugha

The Federal Government has invited the Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, Ahmad Gumi for questioning over his comments on the activities of kidnappers and bandits in the country.

The Minister of information and Orientation, Mohammed Idris disclosed this while addressing journalists at the State House, in Abuja on Monday.

The invitation may not be unconnected to some of the recent utterances of the controversial Islamic cleric on kidnapping and banditry in the country, especially the northern parts of the country.

Condemning the action of Federal Government on the activities of the group, Gumi said, “These bandits are getting more vicious. Before they were not doing this. They are heading to softer targets and we can only attribute this to the kinetic approach.

“Now we are fighting bandits. They are anonymous. You cannot fight someone you don’t even know. We said let’s go in, let us know them, let’s map them out – know who they are and where they belong. All this intelligence information is virtually not there.

“The high-handed approach to the matter is what is making it worse. Now they are kidnapping children and threatening death, which they were not doing before. So, I think what to do is really go back to the drawing board and be truly non-kinetic.”

The Islamic cleric faulted the Federal Government’s alleged continued use of force or kinetic means to secure the release of victims of kidnapping. As a solution, he then advised that Government ought to go closer to the bandits, study them and provide them with better living conditions.

He argued that the government’s alleged use of force has now turned the bandits into monsters. Providing further solution, he enjoined Government to halt the trend, and then design a programme like the amnesty initiative for the Niger Delta militants during the Ya’Adua regime.

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“You need a programme just like the Niger Delta, a programme which will bring them out of their forests, educating then, giving them healthcare, giving them peaceful life. This is how you entice people to abandon violence and militancy.

“But when you continue dropping bombs, they will find no sympathy and empathy for our children. This is it. An eye for an eye. This is what is happening. So, we have to change our tactics, we have to change our styles.

“The government, everybody knows their leader. In fact, there is a book, ‘I am a bandit by one Murtala, an Academic. He listed more than 160 bandit leaders. We know their leaders by their names but you don’t know their foot soldiers.

“You don’t know all of them. So, you just know their leaders. If you don’t know their foot soldiers, how can you be fighting? They can just come into the town as civilians and then go out,” he said.

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