Sheikh Gumi embarks on peace mission to bandits’ camps in Shinkafi Forest

February 5, 2021
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The protracted intractable violent crime wave and killings across the country orchestrated by bandits and Fulani herdsmen are beginning to show signs of a sinking government in Nigeria. The bandits and herdsmen have developed the capacity to challenge the authority of the Nigerian government and perpetuate their activities with minimal resistance from the country’s security agencies.

While the federal government appears to have been overwhelmed or seemingly helpless by the bandits and Fulani herdsmen violence and killings, few governors are beginning to seek internal mechanisms of crime control in their states.

Ironically, as the Nigerian Armed Forces, the Nigerian Police Force and other security agencies are contending with ways to contain the atrocities of the bandits and herdsmen, certain individuals have easy access to leaders of the gangs in their hideouts for interventions.

Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Gumi had undertaken a peace and preaching mission to Zamfara State to intervene on the increasing violence by bandits in the northwest.

Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Gumi had visited the Emir of Shinkafi in Shinkafi Local Government Area. He appealed to the Emir of Shinkafi to double his efforts toward restoring lasting peace in the state. He identified two notorious and dangerous forests providing hideouts for aggrieved Fulani militias.

Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Gumi, thereafter, proceeded on the mission to spread the message of Islam to the Fulani herdsmen and to initiate an engagement towards discouraging them from further violence and crimes and rid Nigeria of rampant kidnapping and armed banditry.

It was gathered that the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and The DESERT HERALD accompanied Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Gumi on the mission to the forest. They reported that the forests of Tubali and Makkai in Shinkafi Local Government Area, Zamfara State, comprise large land mass of over 3,000 hectares of Savannah grasslands under the exclusive control of the armed Fulani militias recruited mostly of teenagers in the age brackets of 14, 15, and 16, and adults between the ages of 18 and 30 years at maximum. They revealed that the Fulani insurgents have 100 per cent control of command and administration of all the settlements in Tubali and Makkai forests. The inhabitants of the two settlements are very comfortable and live freely with the dreaded bandits, they added.

It was pointed out that surprisingly, there is a military outpost in each of the two separate borders that will take people to the forest of Tubali and Makkai where the bandits are having effective control.

It was narrated that at the first settlement in Tubali Forest where Sheikh Ahmad Gumi visited, the top Commander of the bandits, Mohammed Bello, and his Assistant, one Haliru, gave conditions to Sheikh Gumi before they would allow entry into the forest and to guarantee their security. Part of the conditions was that Police and other armed escorts should not enter the forest and that they should wait at the military checkpoint while a total number of vehicles that will be allowed should not be more than five. Also, all visitors, including Sheikh Gumi, must disembark from the car from 300 metres to the venue and trek. As the entourage of Sheikh Gumi, which included the Chairman of Shinkafi Local Government, Hon. Sani Galadima, the Divisional Police Officer, DPO of Shinkafi, SP Abdullahi Ahmad, DESERT  HERALD Publisher, Mallam Tukur Mamu, Sheikh Muhammad Suleiman Adam, Sheikh Sanusi Khutama, Hon. Suleiman Abubakar Gumi, Prof Usman Yusuf, etc. entered the Tubali forest, the presence of highly armed Fulanis with AK47, RPG rifles, pump-action, pistols and live ammunitions, strategically positioned in different locations can be seen conspicuously by the highly determined Sheikh Gumi and his entourage.

It was further narrated: “At the Tubali forest, Sheikh Gumi met with about 150 highly armed Fulani militias. As usual, during every such visit, they expressed their grievances and why it will be difficult for them to surrender their arms even as they expressed confidence in the sincerity of Governor Bello Mohammed Matawalle to address the lingering security impasse.

“The Chairman of Shinkafi also told them that before the peace agreement with the bandits, there were frequent and rampant cases of kidnappings in Shinkafi-Gusau road, while instances of frequent attacks with heavy casualties, including killings were rampant but that as a result of the truce, the once volatile local government has now spent seven months without a single attack.

“Hon. Galadima said the coming of Sheikh Gumi is a blessing to the entire state because according to him the goodwill of Gumi and the respect the Fulani bandits have for him will further strengthen and solidify the fragile peace deal.”

Their top commander, Bello, was said to have spoken on behalf of the Fulani militias. It was indicated that part of their grievances included frequent killing of their loved ones by either security agents or vigilante groups in towns and cities without subjecting them to the due process of the law, failed promises by governments, and cattle rustling that denied most of them and their parents their legitimate means of livelihood.

It was said that Sheikh Gumi spent time preaching the words of Allah to them. He preached to them about the sanctity of preserving human life, how Islam forbids any act of revenge, adultery, fornication, and kidnappings. Sheikh Gumi had encouraged the Fulani militias to always seek knowledge of their religion, how to worship Allah, and to avoid taking laws into their own hands. Gumi also pleaded for their understanding, urging them to cease all hostilities and allow him to reach out to the President to see how their legitimate grievances will be addressed immediately.

Sheikh Gumi, however, admonished them that they should not expect magic from him as his success depends on the cooperation or otherwise, he will get from the federal government who has the authority of decision making. He presented them with Islamic books, including copies of the Qur’an and wrappers. Sheikh Gumi noted that everything he is doing is being funded by the Foundation under him and with the help of other well-meaning individuals and not the government.

It was highlighted that the journey to Makkai forest was the most difficult as Sheikh Gumi and his entourage had to use motorcycles midway because the largely Sahara area is filled with lots of sand and without road networks.

“It is the most dangerous journey so far made by Sheikh Gumi and his dedicated entourage. To the surprise and fear of almost everybody, the entourage met with more than 600 bandits, all of them with automatic rifles. Their top Commander, one Kachalla Turji, welcomed Sheikh Gumi. They were all friendly and very comfortable. Turji is the son of Buharin Daji, the notorious bandit killed about three years ago. Turji took charge of the Shinkafi armed wing of the bandits after the demise of Buharin Daji.

“He told Sheikh Gumi that they are not afraid to die and that even if he dies hundreds are available to take over leadership from him. He lamented how the government reneged in a series of promises made to them.

“The interaction is similar to the one held in Tubali and the preaching, the promises by Sheikh Gumi is the same. It is obvious that many of them were frustrated into taking up arms while ignorance and illiteracy also played a vital role in recruiting virtually all of them into banditry and kidnappings,” the media platforms in the entourage highlighted.

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