The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has frowned at the role Islamic cleric, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, has been playing by acting as the mediator-in-chief between terrorists and the government and asked him to call off the mission immediately.
In the past few weeks, Gumi has constituted himself into an emissary, meeting with terrorists in their hideouts in different forests across states in the North, and urging the government to grant amnesty to them.
The NEF were reacting to the recent comments credited to Gumi, where he accused Christian soldiers of killing the terrorists and blaming the military for triggering the raging banditries in some parts of the North.
Gumi was said to have made the inciting statement while on a negotiation mission for the release of kidnapped school children of Government Science College, Kagara, Niger State, in a forest in the state.
In a statement signed by the NEF’s National Coordinator, Engr. Zana Goni, the group called on the respected cleric to desist from the mission of causing unrest in the North as they vowed to resist attempts by any individual or group to profile the military, arguing that by his statement, the cleric may be justifying armed banditry
They wondered why Gumi will resort to taking sides after taking the initiative to discuss with terrorists, adding that by his action, he may expose the lives and safety of non-Muslim soldiers to serious danger.
The statement reads in part:
“As Northern elders committed to a united and indivisible nation, we hasten to condemn in very strong terms the allegations made against the Nigerian military by one of our leading Islamic scholars, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi.
“We rise in one voice to dissociate ourselves from the dangerous and divisive allegations leveled against our patriotic soldiers by Sheikh Gumi, in one of his missions to meet with bandits in a forest around Niger State.
“Ordinarily, we would have commended the Sheikh for daring to do what authorities failed, but for the profiling comments attributed to him, which we consider abhorrent and unhelpful to national development and peace.
“We insist that our military is one of the finest in the world, with zero-tolerance for partisanship, ethnic consideration and other unprofessional dispositions.
“We warn that comments such as this have the potential of pitting the exposed soldiers against general areas in the North, where they have continued to put down their lives to protect the territorial integrity of the nation from those that seek to violate it.
“Our concern is further hinged on the possibility of the world concluding that the North may be offering tacit endorsement to banditry and associated crimes against society.
“To douse this tension, therefore, we call on relevant authorities, including prominent individuals and groups from the North, to condemn Gumi’s position in a manner that will absolve the region of conspiracy and vicarious liability, in the long run
“In whatever position we find ourselves, we must, at all material times, endeavour to put the collective interest of Nigeria over and above all other considerations, bearing in mind the fact that when the country collapses, it will do so on all of us, regardless of religion, ethnicity, or belief.
“Lastly, we urge Gumi to stop approbating and reprobating at the same time, and to immediately call-off his mission, if he has developed lethargy in the course of undertaking visits to deep forests.”