By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna
Expectations on the early release of the abducted Kagara school boys and others kidnapped by armed bandits on the highway along Kundu – Garin Gabas – Zungeru road was heightened following the intervention of key notable Islamic religious personalities and Fulani leaders.
Kaduna based international Islamic scholar, Sheikh Dr. Ahmed Muhammad Gumi along with other notable Islamic scholars and some of the leaders of the Fulanis stock from Kaduna and Jos in Plateau states arrived Niger State and held talks with leadership of bandits for peaceful end of kidnap and attacks on communities across the state.
The meeting held in one of the bushes and strong enclaves of the bandits within Niger territory was at the instance of the famous Kaduna based Islamic scholar.
Gumi, it was understood had arrived the state along with some Islamic scholars and leaders to discuss with the Fulanis who are armed and have taken to the bushes and are operating as bandits.
Secretary to Niger State Government, (SSG) Ahmed Ibrahim Matane who led the state government’s side, spoke on the terrible state of insecurity in the state brought about by the ceaseless attacks by armed bandits.
Ahmed Ibrahim Matane appealed for ceasefire while noting that killing was against the tenets of the religion of Islam as much as it is inhuman.
The SSG commended and thanked Sheik Dr. Gumi for standing in the garb for peace and for calling for a truce between bandits and government.
Ahmed Ibrahim Matane noted that despite government’s control of the armed forces, the police and other security agencies including other paramilitary establishments, banditry has not abated even as he acknowledged that in a short span of time, Sheik Gumi’s intervention has shown prospects of the end of banditry in the country.
In a recorded video which has been trending on social media platforms, the leadership of the bandits led by a man simply identified as Dogo, was in attendance along with other Fulani leaders who spoke for their people.
The acclaimed leader of the armed bandits Dogo had in his remarks at the gathering sought to know if the ceasefire being advocated for was on in Niger state or total. He said reports reaching him had suggested that a state governor was averse to the idea just as he warned that his men would not agree to sheathe their weapons for anyone to rubbish them later.
He revealed that all sectoral leaders of the armed bandits have agreed to sheathe their weapons but government must stop all further killings of his people.
Earlier most of the sectoral leaders of the bandits had in their separate remarks, singled out local vigilante corp members as their sworn enemies and warned that unless the corp of the vigilante were called to order, the armed bandits would not lay down their arms in any truce called by state authorities.
In the video clip, several dozens of the armed bandits are seen either seated or standing with many of them bearing their assault rifles.
Speaker after speaker amongst the leadership of the bandits, spoke on the need to stop the killings of the Fulani stock, the rustling of their flock, arrest and dehumanization of the Fulani man.
Meanwhile Sheik Dr. Ahmed Muhammad Gumi was a guest of governor Abubakar Sani Bello at the Government House, Minna.
While welcoming the visitor, governor Sani Bello noted that Sheik Dr. Gumi was in the state to assist in brokering peace and end the sprawling banditry in parts of the country.
He commended Sheik Gumi for his selfless disposition and love for peace. He said the state government was waiting for a detailed report and strategy from the visiting Islamic scholar on ways to end armed banditry that had caused much anguish, loss of lives, blood letting and destruction across the state.
Dr. Gumi while fielding questions from newsmen said he was in the state to discuss peace and the way forward out of the present insecurity situation in the country.
Sheik Dr. Gumi reiterated his call on government to grant amnesty to armed bandits as was done by federal government to Niger Delta armed militants.
Feelers close to the state government told our correspondent that Sheik Gumi and members of his entourage were still discussing with leadership of the Fulanis in the state to achieve a truce and cease fire and an end to banditry by the armed Fulani extractions.
Meanwhile, at the time of writing this report, the abducted Kagara school victims of Wednesday’s raid by the armed bandits as well as those kidnapped last Sunday afternoon along the Kundu – Garin Gabas – Zungeru road were yet to be released.