Kaduna based popular Islamic scholar, Sheikh Dr Aimed Abubakar Mahmoud Gumi, has reportedly visited bandits operating in forests around Shinkafi and Gumi local government areas of Zamfara State in a bid to preach peace and the message of Islam to the Fulani herdsmen with a view to swaying them away from kidnapping and banditry.
Gumi, according to reports, met with the bandits on Tuesday in the company of other Islamic clerics.
Reports further revealed that Gummi and his entourage made a stop at the forest of Tubali and Makkai in Shinkafi LGA, said to be under the firm control of armed Fulani herdsmen.
At the Tubali Forest, Gumi reportedly met with about 150 armed Fulanis who were said to have expressed their grievances, giving reasons why it would be difficult for them to surrender their arms.
Reports further qouted the Chairman of Shinkafi council as saying that before the peace agreement with the bandits, kidnappings on the Shinkafi-Gusau, and deadly attacks on villages were frequent and rampant, adding that at the moment, the council had spent seven months without a single attack.
The leader of the bandits in Tubali forest, simply identified as Bello, reportedly said: “Let the killings of our loved ones by security agents without due process of the law stop, as well as cattle rustling that denied most of us legitimate means of livelihood.”
Also at the Makkai Forest, Gumi and his entourage were said to have met with more than 600 bandits with automatic rifles, under a commander named Kachalla Turji, who welcomed the Gumi.
The bandits in Makkai were said have expressed frustration at government attitude towards them.
While appealing to the bandits, Gumi reportedly said: “Let there be peace; you all have a legitimate concern and grievances, and I believe that since the Niger Delta armed militants were integrated by the Federal Government and are even in the business of pipelines protection, the Federal Government should immediately look into how something like that will be done to the Fulani to provide them with reasonable means of livelihood including jobs, working capitals, entrepreneurship training, building clinic and schooling.”
It would be recalled that the North-West states of Sokoto, Zamfara and Katsina have been under the mercy of bandits, who kidnap, kill and destroy properties at will, with the state governors seemingly helpless.
Zamfara State governor, Bello Matawalle has however adopted dialogue as a way of addressing the security threats posed by the rampaging bandits.