•Says no official pardon, no end to banditry •ACF, Afenifere, M’Belt Forum, Ohanaeze, Fani Kayode kick
By Sunday Ani and Seye Ojo, Ibadan
Nigerians, particularly ethnic nationality groups, have tackled controversial Islamic cleric, Sheik Abubakar Gumi, over his clamour for amnesty to bandits.
Sheik Gumi, yesterday, said bandits troubling the northern part of Nigeria “are going nowhere” restating the need for government to halt military actions and grant them amnesty.
The cleric, in a post on his known Facebook titled “Zamfara: The flaring of crisis” said military action against criminal herdsmen and bandits would not solve the security challenge but “will only worsen the situation.”
The controversial Islamic preacher was reacting to the recent perceived military success over bandits at Zamfara forests.
“Now with the prodding of the government to take more military actions of an already ugly situation whereby they were left to amass weapons, a huge military budget that is almost draining the economy to a standstill in the purchase of fighter aircrafts and conducting military operations in the region has become to the authorities in their calculations a necessity.
“Unfortunately, this is no solution or wisdom. When you don’t have the monopoly of the instruments of violence, then dialogue has the monopoly of resolving the conflict. This is what the UN is all about. i.e., Roundtable resolution of conflicts. What we are seeing is more than just criminals and criminality, yes it may have started as such but like any conflict, it is dynamic.
“The danger we face now is ideological demagogues changing the narrative. They are trying hard to infiltrate the herdsmen. And we know their objectives. They want to destroy all modern governments by fighting the military and now in the recent cajoling of local populations, they have tormented before to join them in the struggle.
“Let us face the reality, these herdsmen are going nowhere, and they are already in battle gear, and we know our Military very well, so before things get messy, we need cold brains to handle this delicate situation. Its common sense that if you allow your neighbors to be your enemy you are already conquered. Because they can easily be used against you by other forces as we see now the herdsmen are ultimately used to destabilize the region, pauperize and even depopulate it.
“Military actions in the past have worsen the situation stimulating herdsmen resistance. Any more action will push them closer to religious fanaticism. It gives them protection from discrediting them as thieves and also reinforce their mobilisation of gullible young unemployed youth as we saw with BH.
“I have met many of the bandit leaders to see a way out of this gridlock. I have talked to the political class and security agents. Except for an exception, most state governors want a peaceful resolution of the conflict. The Police and other security outfits have also realized the enormity of the problem. But, unfortunately, the presidency for what appears to be political gullibility and the military for budgetary reasons as they are the most beneficiary of conflicts of this nature doesn’t seem to be on the same page.
“This conflict can be resolved by active engagement of the government with the agitators. Just as we saw how EndSAR agitation was swiftly managed after an initial scandalous failed military confrontation, was peacefully resolved by the government, likewise, the herdsmen crisis can be.
“Just as we had the Niger Delta conflict resolved with an amnesty which comes with reconciliation, reparation, and rehabilitation packages, so will the herdsmen crisis be resolved. In fact, there is a need for a Marshal plan to educate the nomadic pastoralist so that no citizen is left behind.”
“These measures I enumerated are cheaper, easier, and lasting than the kinetic approach which is now taking place. No military especially of a poor economy can win guerrilla warfare. The recent victory of the Taliban in Afghanistan is a factual warning for those that contemplate.”
However, National Publicity Secretary, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Alex Ogbonnia, disagreed with Gumi saying there was no basis to grant amnesty to faceless criminals like bandits.
“Boko Haram is an organised ideological movement but bandits are not organised. They are pure criminals. It is only when you have them organised that you can even talk about amnesty. When you talk about an amorphous group, you can’t be talking about amnesty.”
He maintained that anybody talking about amnesty for bandits is only trying to create entirely a new terrorist group. By the time Gumi’s idea prevails, he would have created a new ideological body in banditry, so his suggestion is very dangerous. He is now instigating them to form themselves into an ideological group that can now begin to bargain with the political system. It is unfortunate that Gumi is trying to create that kind of movement again when we already have enough terrorist organisations at hand,” he said.
Similarly, president of Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Yerima Shettima, said nobody that carried arms against the state should be granted amnesty.
“I wouldn’t know what informed Gumi’s argument, but for me, I have always been against amnesty of any kind. Even before Yar’Adua offered amnesty to the Niger Delta boys, I am one of those voices in the north that opposed it on the ground that you don’t do that because when you do, every idiot will take up arms and begin to demand for amnesty.
“All of us could have at the end of the day taken up arms and gone into the forest to unleash terror on innocent Nigerians but we decided to be law abiding. So, there is no excuse for banditry. They should be dealt with according to the law otherwise; even the armed robbers in prisons should also be granted amnesty. Only Gumi knows why he is saying what is saying but for me, anybody who has taken up arms against the state should be punished according to the law.”
Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Jare Ajayi, said the Federal Government has not been decisive in tackling banditry, kidnapping and insecurity in the country.
He regretted that Gumi was advocating clemency and amnesty for criminals when the security situation in the country was getting worse. Ajayi said the apex socio-cultural organisation was not in support of Gumi’s call for amnesty for bandits and urged the Federal Government not to listen to him.
President of the Middle Belt Forum (MBF), Pogu Bitrus, believes that the whole idea about banditry is a big conspiracy.
“The military is not willing to deal with bandits. When you know the location of the bandits and you can’t bomb them out of the place but want to negotiate and grant amnesty to them; it is the conspirators within the system that are doing this.”
He claimed that some people were protecting bandits so that they could achieve what they want to achieve.
“It is simply a conspiracy and stopping the military from doing their job. Since the acquisition of the Tucano Jet fighters, what have the military done with that? The issue is that there is no political will to solve the problem. There are people protecting the bandits and stopping the military from doing their job,” he submitted.
Reacting, former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, told Sheik Gumi not to compare Niger Delta militants to bandits as the latter does not rape or abduct children from schools.
On his Twitter page, he wrote: “ For Gumi to say that the killer bandits & terrorists are not going anywhere unless and until they are given amnesty like the Niger Delta militants is asinine and unacceptable. The Niger Delta militants did not target, rape, kill women and they did not abduct children from their schools.”
- Those behind Nigeria’s woes’ll incur God’s anger –Bishop Oke
The Presiding Bishop of the Sword of the Spirit Ministries, Ibadan, Oyo State, Bishop Wale Oke, has warned those working against the progress and stability of Nigeria to desist from their nefarious activities in order to avoid the wrath of God.
He gave the warning at the grand finale of the 39th Annual Holy Ghost Convention of the ministry held at the PCU Campus, Garden of Victory, Ibadan.
Oke, who is also the President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigerian (PFN), noted: “There are wicked people in this country, who God will deal with unless they repent. Their activities have led to the sufferings of many Nigerians and have put the nation in needless jeopardy.”
He, however, encouraged Nigerians not to entertain fear about the corporate existence of the country, saying the nation would survive in spite of the socio-economic and political challenges, besetting its progress.
“Nigeria will survive. Nigeria will prevail. There are people, who are troubling Nigeria and unless they repent, God will deal with them,” Oke stated.
The convention featured, among other things, ordination of pastors, deacons and deaconesses, elders and ministers, numbering about 200.
Everything is the opposite yet Nigeria not a complete disaster – Soyinka
Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, has said Nigerians are still managing to eke out a living despite the bleak realities confronting the country.
Soyinka spoke during an interview with the Cable News Network monitored by our correspondent.
Commenting on the ironic title for his first novel in 48 years, Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth, he said things happened around one as one grew up, witnessing the degrading of dream and environment in one’s society and on the continent.
He explained that for him, the issue had been an arduous journey, adding, “It has reached such a stage, I found intuitively, that only prose fiction can handle things that have been bubbling up inside me.”
He said the title came after some people some years ago conducted a poll which placed Nigeria among the top four happiest nations in the world.
The playwright noted, “That thing has been with me, in my head. I asked, ‘Who are these people? What do they know? What have they seen? What have they experienced in Nigeria that they make such an attribution?’ That title really has been waiting to answer that claim in many ways. When you look at the surroundings, everything is the opposite and yet, Nigeria is not a complete disaster.
“People still manage to eke out a living not only a living but to some extent a dignified and satisfied living. I think it’s not surface appearance of contentment or making the best of a really bad job, insisting that no matter what life must go on… It’s that which needed to be, quote and unquote, celebrated in addition to the bleak actualities.”
The elder statesman further said he took the decision to change his former relationship if Donald Trump was elected president of the United States despite “being literally an enemy of decency and humanity’’ and his blatantly discontent for non-white humanity.
He stated, “I never really totally turned my back on the United States. I mean how could one? We have many Nigerians there, to start with. When I stroll through the streets of the United States, I sometimes think the United States is an extension of Nigeria, that it’s part of our diaspora.” That’s not an easy decision but it was inevitable.”
Commenting on the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature awarded to Tanzanian novelist, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Soyinka said his immediate statement after the announcement was “let the African tribe expand wherever situated.”
Insecurity: Royal Navy Warship arrives in Lagos
The Royal Navyship, HMS TRENT has arrived Lagos State as part of its three months deployment to the Gulf of Guinea.
The HMS TRENT and her contingent of Royal Marines from 42 Commando are on a three-month deployment to the Gulf of Guinea.
Port of Lagos is the second stop for HMS TRENT since departing Gibraltar in October.
The Royal Navy War ship was recieved by the United Kingdom, UK, Deputy High Commissioner in Lagos, Ben Llewellyn-Jones, at a reception on Saturday.
According to Llewellyn-Jones: “Nigeria’s security and prosperity matters to the UK. The Royal Navy is here because the UK is a committed partner for Nigeria and the wider West African region.
“We will continue to work with the Nigerian authorities to address illegal activity; improve maritime security; counter-piracy and tackle the Illegal Wildlife Trade.
“To do this we will draw on the experience we have of cross and multi-agency co-operation in the UK to promote peace, development, and prosperity.”
The ship’s company of HMS Trent have a packed schedule of events, including various capability demonstrations and training, with 42 Commando delivering their specific Vessel Boarding, Search and Seizure training to the Nigerian Navy.
In addition, members of the ship’s company will also step ashore with a charity beach clean as well as attending the Maritime Security Conference at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA).
Also speaking, HMS Trent’s Commanding Officer, Commander Thomas Knott said: “As Trent made her way to the Gulf of Guinea my crew honed their skills in Maritime Security Operations and commenced Counter Illicit Activity Patrols.
“Piracy, Narcotics and broader criminal activities in this region demand that my Royal Navy Sailors and Royal Marine Commando Force are always ready to respond, from Boarding Operations through to lifesaving assistance at sea.”
Boarding exercises are vital integration training for the newly embarked Royal Marines, who joined at the start of HMS Trent’s patrol of the Gulf of Guinea.
42 Commando will perform a key role as part of the ship’s company of HMS Trent, training partner forces across the region and helping to develop their capabilities.
The three-month deployment will see the ship travel around the Gulf of Guinea, visiting countries including Ghana, Senegal, and Gambia.
Alongside their commitments to conduct joint exercises and train with partners in the region, HMS Trent will also conduct maritime security patrols and promote the UK’s position as co-president at the G7++ Friends of Gulf of Guinea conference in November.
FG considering posthumous pardon for Ken Saro-Wiwa, others – Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari says the Federal Government is considering a state pardon for nine Ogoni leaders/activists convicted and hanged by the military dictatorship of General Sani Abacha 26 years ago for opposing the operating practices of the Royal Dutch Shell Oil Corporation.
The Ogoni Nine are author and playwright Ken Saro-Wiwa, Saturday Dobee, Nordu Eawo, Daniel Gbooko, Paul Levera, Felix Nuate, Baribor Bera, Barinem Kiobel and John Kpuine, They were executed on November 10, 1995.
Buhari gave the hint when he had an audience with some leaders and people of Ogoni land at the State House, according to a statement by Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.
According to the President Buhari, despite the gravity of the circumstances, the Federal Government will consider the request to grant them pardon and bring closure to the case.
He said: “Furthermore, we are committed to ensuring clemency and national integration as part of this administration’s bid to lay the foundation for genuine reconciliation and bring closure to the issues of Ogoni Land.
“The unfortunate incidents of the early 1990s leading to the loss of lives of distinguished sons of Ogoni land and the collateral judicial processes are indelible in our memories.
“Despite the grievous circumstances, the Federal Government will consider the request for the grant of pardon to finally close the Ogoni saga,’’
President Buhari urged the Ogoni leaders to sensitize indigenes on value of protecting national assets like pipelines and other oil installations, saying willful damages usually create more havoc on their environment and hamper development in the area.
He also noted that the Federal Government is committed to the cleaning up of Ogoni land so that indigenes can regain their lives, return to farms and reactivate economic activities.
“You will need to educate the people of Ogoni land and the region more, that when pipelines are broken, the damage is more to the immediate environment and the people. The majority farmers and fishermen struggle because the fishes now move to the deep sea,’’ he said.
The President observed that bad industry practices coupled with security challenges had resulted in massive spills with attendant environmental degradation of Ogoni, leading to agitations and strife.
He said the government would bring to a close all pending issues on sons of Ogoni land.
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