Over 500 bandits have agreed to lay down their arms after a peace deal that was struck by Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, a prominent Islamic cleric.
According to Desert Herald, the bandits are said to be those terrorising Zaria-Giwa roads as well as Birnin Gwari area in Kaduna State.
The cleric had reportedly preached in Sabon Garin Yadi.
Sabon Garin Yadi is under Giwa Local Government Area of Kaduna State. It is about 65 kilometres from Zaria, while the location of the bush where the armed bandits freely operated and gathered to listen to Sheikh Gumi is a journey of about 30 kilometres with no road network at all.
Out of the over 500 armed Fulani that were present, it was learnt that about 25 of them were top commanders.
The meeting with the bandits was attended by the Kaduna State Police Commissioner, Umar Muri, with all the top officers of the command.
“Virtually all the top armed commanders were freely given the chance to address the session with almost all of them lamenting the condition they were subjected to and expressed the frustration that led them into kidnapping and banditry,” the report by the online newspaper read.
“Most of them were unanimous in their submissions. They told Sheikh Gumi and CP Umar Muri that they were forced into taking up arms. They said over the years they were subjected to constant humiliation, harassment, arbitrary arrests, extortion and even killing of their innocent loved ones by law enforcement agents.
“They lamented that security personnel had killed many of their family members with many of them losing virtually all their possessions through cattle rustling, extortion by security agents and military bombardments. They lamented that thousands of their youths did not have anything to do and there was no means of livelihood hence their decision to take up arms.
“They also complained of lack of government’s presence and the absence of basic necessities like water, schools, clinics, etc. in all their localities and vowed that as long as government and the society did not change their attitude towards them, there woule never be peace.
“They accused the government of not being sincere in ending cases of banditry and kidnappings.
“They accused Nigerian security agents of benefitting hugely from the current insecurity. The Ardos (Fulani leaders) were also in attendance.
“They told the large gathering that most of them, including the armed Fulani, only accepted the invitation to come from far and near because of the respect and confidence they had in Sheikh Gumi.
“They told CP Umar Muri that the police and soldiers are part of their problems and that their actions in the past did so much harm in escalating the insecurity associated with kidnappings and armed banditry.
“In his response, CP Muri who spoke in their native Fulfulde, pleaded for understanding and patience and assured them that he would deliver their message to the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu. He said the police would continue to support any peace initiative and that the leadership of the police under IGP Adamu recognises the rights of all Nigerians. He told them that he was ordered by the IGP directly to come because of the importance the government attached to Sheikh Gumi’s peace efforts.”
While noting their concerns, Gumi reportedly told them to be patient.
The cleric asked them to stop committing crime and that he will make a case for them when he meets with President Muhammadu Buhari.