The National President of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF), Alhaji Yerima Shettima, has flayed popular Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, over his approach to the banditry situation in the country.
According to Sun, Shettima also expressed support for the anti-open grazing laws being put in place by the Southern governors.
He however advised the governors to go about the issue diplomatically so that the matter would not become a source of friction between the northern and southern regions.
Gumi who had been visiting bandits in the forest in an attempt to negotiate a peace deal with them had several times asked the Nigerian government to grant amnesty to bandits like the Niger Delta militants.
Reacting, Shettima said, “No way. No. I’m not in support of that. We must not encourage it. Let us consider the victims of banditry first. Have they been well taken care of? Have they been rehabilitated? Has anything been done for them substantially to compensate them? Why should you now consider amnesty for those people who created the difficult situation in which they found themselves?
“Why should we make the bandits feel that they are so important to be considered for amnesty? I have a lot of respect for Dr Gumi, and he may have his reasons for saying that, but I don’t think I share his idea on that.
“I’m not on the same page with him over this. Bandits and others who are found wanting should be dealt with as criminals. Anybody who is found wanting should be dealt with as a common criminal. Anybody who is found to be dealing with them should also not be spared. Bandits should not be allowed to turn Nigeria into a banana republic where everybody can be a law unto themselves. No excuse whatsoever can justify the criminality being committed by these bandits. The bandits should be treated as criminals. We should allow the law to deal with them.”
On the anti-open grazing bill recently passed to law by some governors, the Arewa leader said, “Open grazing, to an extent, has been creating problems here and there. It should be banned, and I agree with that. But let it not be seen as if it is an issue between the North and the South. Let the governors find a way to diplomatically address the issue. In as much as some people believe that we should not encourage it, we should be careful the way we go about it so that it would not be seen as if it is something between the North and the South. Let us come up with reasons for opposing it, and then harmonise our positions so that at the end of the day we will all agree on a common position.
“Don’t forget that there are some Northern governors who are also opposed to open grazing like the Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje, and Governor Masari of Katsina State. The governors should not allow the matter to become a source of division between the north and the south. The ban on open grazing is in order but it should not be seen as a gang-up against the north.
“The issue should not be seen to be a sectional or ethnic agenda because if we allow that to happen, it will not augur well for the country. We shouldn’t allow the issue to become a source of discontentment between the north, and the south. The governors from the north and the south are colleagues. They should not allow the issue to be blown out of proportion as if it is one side that is against another for the sake of Nigeria’s unity.”