Popular Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi has appealed to Nigerians to stop addressing armed bandits as criminals if they want them to surrender.
The cleric also blamed newsmen for constantly labelling and reporting the activities of the herdsmen as criminals.
Speaking when he appeared as a guest on an interview programme monitored by Naija News on Arise TV, Gumi said the bandits are ready to lay down their weapons and surrender but need assurance that they won’t be hurt physically or emotionally.
“You are emphasising on criminality, I don’t know. Even the Press (journalists) are criminals too because they are putting oil into fire. These people are listening to you, don’t address them as criminals if you want them to succumb,” the Sheikh said.
“Youths are ready to put down their weapons, now they are hearing you call them criminals, how do you want them to cooperate. So you have to show them that they are Nigerians and that they should not hurt children and that they should be law abiding, these are the language we want to hear from the Press to assist us in getting the boys.
“When we talk to them in nice a wordings they are ready to put their weapons down, they are ready to listen to us, but when the language is about criminality, kill them, jail them, then this is what we will end up having,” Gumi added.
It will be recalled that Sheikh Gumi, known for his intermediary role in negotiating with the bandits in many parts of the country recently declared that the bandits dialogue with him because they know that he is a peace advocate and a trustworthy person.
Gumi said the bandits do not trust the government, politicians, or the military for a peace talk because they know they are going to deceive them.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s former military head of state, Abdulsalami Abubakar has urged the government to find an alternative to negotiating with terrorists and bandits.
The retired general who spoke on Tuesday after meeting with the Nigerian Governors’ Forum in Minna submitted that the best option remains to prevent the crimes from happening.
Though he admitted that negotiation can sometimes be employed in securing peace, the former head of state noted that the best way to clamp down on criminal activities and their perpetrators is to prevent crime from happening.