Islamic Cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, has reiterated that Fulani herdsmen involved in banditry are victims of circumstance.
Gumi restated his position during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Monday.
The cleric has previously advocated for the bandits to be granted amnesty after meeting them in the bush.
“When I listened to them, I found out that it is a simple case of criminality which turned into banditry, which turned into ethnic war, and some genocide too behind the scene; people don’t know,” he said.
“There is no excuse for any crime; nothing can justify crime, and they are committing crime,” the bandits were forced into criminality.
“I think it is a population that is pushed by circumstances into criminality.
“And this is what we should look at, let’s remove the pressure, let’s remove the things that made them into criminals because we have lived thousands of years without any problems with the nomadic herdsmen. They are peaceful people. But something happened that led them to this.”
According to Gumi, the herdsmen-bandits are engaged in an ethnic war against other peoples, including the sedentary Fulani. The solution, he added, was dialogue.
“It is a complex issue that Nigerians need to understand,” Gumi said.
“The solution is very simple, but it’s not military hardware. The solution is dialogue and teaching.
“These people are acting with natural instincts, not special knowledge. And they don’t have any ambition or anything. They don’t have a vision of the future. They are talking about existence; their livelihood was destroyed because the cattle rustling that was going on for a long time, they are the first victims of it.
“So, we need to investigate how cattle rustling became a big business in Nigeria and how it affected the socio-cultural behaviour of the nomadic Fulani. They were pushed into criminality.”