Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, an Islamic scholar and peace negotiator, has revealed that bandits should not be labelled as criminals.
Gumi said if Nigerians want them to put down their weapons, the bandits should be treated with nice words and made to see that they are Nigerians and also part of the society.
The cleric gave the advice during an interview with Arise TV.
He said, “Even the press are criminals too because they are putting oil into fire. These people are listening to you. You don’t address them as criminals if you want them to succumb. Youths are ready to put down their weapons. Now, they hear you calling them criminals, how do you want them to cooperate?
“So, you have to show them that they are Nigerians, that they should not hurt children and that they should be law-abiding. This is the language we want to hear (from) the press in assisting us in getting the boys.
“When we talk to them with nice wordings, they are ready to put their weapons down, they are ready to listen to us. But when the language is about criminality, about kill them, jail them, then this is what we end up having.”
Gumi stated that the issue has become a nationwide problem, pointing out that a group in the Niger Delta has started agitation.
“You can see the Niger Delta people have already started coming out too to threaten the nation. So, it’s a nationwide problem we have with the youths taking weapon because it gives them a false sense of authority, importance,” he said.
The cleric said the bandits should be listened to, adding that “the language of criminality should be struck out.”
When asked if he believes anybody that kills, rapes, kidnaps and robs people is a criminal, Gumi said “he’s a criminal.”
“But let me show you one thing. If you are stopped by armed robbers on the road, this word criminal, you will not use it on them. You will tell them good things, obey them so that you will save yourself,” he said.