Kaduna State-based Islamic cleric, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi, has insisted that he does not negotiate for bandits.
While hosting Senator Shehu Sani, who represented Kaduna Central in the 8th Assembly, in his Kaduna residence yesterday, Gumi noted that he always ensured that government officials were present in his discussions with bandits.
He stated: “I don’t go straight to them. I am not a negotiator for them to collect ransom. Whatever I do, I always put the government between us. I have never been to any bandit without a government representative. All they say were in front of the official. Once I get a government official representative, there is no limit to how far we can go.
The cleric has, for sometime, been visiting bandits in their enclaves to listen to their grievances and appealing to their consciousness to lay down their arms.
Meanwhile, Sani said he visited the cleric to urge him not to relent or be discouraged by his critics in his effort to restore peace in the country.
The lawmaker also appealed to him to help in freeing the 39 students of federal forestry college and members of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) held by kidnappers.
Gumi appreciated Sani’s effort towards restoring peace in the country and said: “As for the college students, we have done all we can. In fact, I had a meeting with parents of the kidnapped students sequel to their meeting with the government. I told them what the problem is and they went to visit the government and returned.”
Before the Federal Government’s shoot-on-sight order on AK-47 wielding bandits, the cleric had said: “As for the college students, we are making arrangements for them through a contact to see how this problems can be solved. The case has been referred to someone (name withheld) and he is doing his best.”
But Sani added: “I am one of the Nigerians passionate about bringing an end to insecurity in the country and I will not relent. I beg you not to retreat from whatever effort you are putting in.
“We cannot defeat people until we understand them and win some of them over. So do not be discouraged by words and lack of recognition from your critics.”