Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, a popular Islamic cleric, has insisted that bandits are militants fighting for ethnic survival.
Gumi, who spoke on Channels Television’s Politics on Monday, said bandits are Nigerians that want to defend themselves.
The Islamic teacher stressed that the only solution to end banditry in Nigeria is through dialogue and teaching bandits Islam.
Speaking about his experience with the armed herders, Gumi said: “It’s a complex issue. It’s an ethnic war and the solution is dialogue and teaching them Islam. To them, they’re talking about an ethnic existence.”
He added: “They [bandits] are Nigerians. I hate to call them bandits. They are militants fighting for ethnic survival.
“They want to defend themselves. If there is peace, you will not see such things as banditry, kidnapping, among others.
“If you are talking about victims, they have more victims on their side than others. To them, they are fighting a war of existence.
“If you have seen them (herdsmen), you will discover they have nothing like civilization other than the guns they are carrying.
“We are trying to talk to them to drop their guns. There are peace processes ongoing, and they are ready to put down their arms. They are not killing people; they are just engaged in ethnic revenge.
“The Fulani herdsmen are victims of military excesses. The armed herdsmen are kidnapping to make money.”
Recall that Gumi had met with some of the bandits, a situation that led to claims of him negotiating with them.
The Islamic scholar, however, denied negotiating the release of those abducted.
Gumi had also advocated for amnesty for bandits.