Outspoken Islamic scholar, Abubakar Mahmud Gumi, has warned the Federal Government against military solution to herdsmen’s violence across the country, saying the country does not have the capacity to take on herdsmen who he claimed are fighting an “economic war.”
Sheikh Gumi, who spoke in an exclusive interview with THE WHISTLER in his home in Kaduna, said the Fulani herdsmen are angry because they have been the target of cattle rustlers while security personnel that should protect them also extort them.
Gumi said a Fulani herdsman lives on his cattle and when you take it away from him, he will fight back and find other ways to survive.
He dismissed speculation of a Fulani agenda in Nigeria, stressing that neither President Muhammadu Buhari nor anyone else could sponsor what is going on in the country.
He said: “Who’s sponsoring who? For what? How do you sponsor somebody to come and start killing people? No. It’s the criminalities, the rustling of their cattle and the extortion. Infact, rustling of cattle affected the Fulani more than any other. When they lost their cattle, then they’re extorted. And they don’t have right to complain because if they are taken to court its extortion again because they are considered illiterates.
“They have wives which are the cows. Everybody is feeding on them until when the cows are finished, then they realized that they have been targeted and profiled. Then they form into an ethnic enclave and say we have to fight back.
“And then they’re introduced to drugs, kidnapping and they’re making money now. So you have to break the circle if you want to stop the criminalities. Remove the ethnic element, empower them, give them cattle, settle them and educate them. Without education they would come back to the crime because an ignorant man is an atomic bomb.”
He said his mission had been to pacify the herdsmen who he believed are evidently angry and frustrated by what has happened to them, but expressed regret that the federal government was not supportive of his effort.
He said President Buhari sees him as his enemy and is unwilling to listen to dialogue with him or the bandits.
He said the only way to stop kidnapping and crimes being committed by herdsmen is to engage them in dialogue and address their problems otherwise the violence would continue.
“My major worry is that if Buhari continues the way he’s doing, one and a half years remaining from his tenure is too long for Nigeria. There would be too much casualties,” he stated, adding that “If you say you’re not going to forgive him, he will kill more people further and we don’t have the capacity to tackle them.”
He said no one should be surprised that herdsmen are also turning to crimes, adding that they have also seen corruption in government and everywhere around them.
“So, why are you surprised that the herdsmen too have realized that with drugs and kidnapping, they can earn money? Why are you surprised? They have seen the porous nature of our security. They have the sanctuary, which is the forest. They also have the courage because they have been herding animals in the forest so his heart is hardened.”
Sheikh Gumi also spoke on secession agitations, Ojukwu and the 2023 election. The full interview will be published on Sunday.