Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi has said there is a tribal war going on in Nigeria and the Muhammadu Buhari-led government has taken sides.
Speaking on Arise News ‘Morning Show on Wednesday, Gumi said the Nigerian government is not neutral in the “tribal war” going on, adding that it spells danger for the country.
He said, “This is a tribal war going on and the government taking one side. What I see now is a tribal war. Fulani fighting Yoruba in the South West, Fulani fighting Igbo in the South East, and Fulani fighting in other areas in the North.
“What you are calling banditry when you cross to the other side, you discover Nigeria is fighting a tribal war and government is supposed to be the mediator. Government is supposed to be neutral; it’s not supposed to take sides.
“But the moment government takes side it becomes part of the conflict. And this is what I saw in Zamfara state, in Niger state, and other states.
“When you say these bandits are committing atrocities, yes, agreed, they are committing crimes – they are killing people, they are kidnapping, they are raping, they are doing all sorts of atrocities. But, have you for once gone to their sides and seen all sorts of atrocities that are also committed against them?
“So that rather than wielding the big stick and relying on military action, the Federal Government will do well in restoring normalcy by engaging the bandits in negotiation and using willing volunteers among them to win the battle.”
He urged the government to appeal to moderate bandits and use them against the deadlier ones.
“Boko Haram leader, Shekau had been causing havoc in the country for more than 10 years and the military could not kill him but ISWAP, a splinter group from Boko Haram was able to eliminate him. So is the case with the herdsmen. We can use them to suppress the criminals among them.
“As we all know, at a point, the Boko Haram were ready for dialogue and at a point, they even recommended the current president (Buhari) to negotiate for them. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo even tried to broker peace with Boko Haram,” he said.
The cleric also urged the President to discuss with bandits and agitators for secession in the country like the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), saying, “Government doesn’t want to recognise that there are agitations. Even with the IPOB. If I were the government, I will go and sit down with them and ask what the problem is.
“Why are you carrying weapons against your own country? So is the case with the herdsmen. They are ready to negotiate.”
He said some Fulani herdsmen were being radicalised to become terrorists and therefore called on the government to act fast.
He said, “Now, the herdsmen are slowly becoming radicalized in a terrorist form/fashion. I mean religiously, and this is a bad omen for us.
“Because when they begin to come out reading religious texts to justify what they are doing, then, it becomes difficult to convince them to come out and negotiate. And I am saying this now, let’s go and get them before the evil forces capture them.”