Prominent Islamic cleric , has urged the Federal Government to engage bandits as guards to guarantee security in schools.
At least six kidnappings of schoolchildren have occurred in the North-West and North-Central parts of the country since December 2020 with the abduction of not less than 700 students and staff.
The latest abduction occurred last Thursday when bandits attacked Federal Government College, Birnin-Yauri in Kebbi state and abducted many students and staff.
The abductions have resulted in the suspension of boarding schools and the deployment of security operatives in schools in some states.
Gumi, who spoke in an interview with journalists, said aerial bombardments of bandits would only worsen the security situation, arguing that they are also “victims”.
The cleric said, “To secure schools, why not engage the bandits. Engage them; they are not many. You can count them with your fingers. How can you guard schools? It is not possible. In the whole North-West, they may not be more than 100,000 bandits. And that is just a drop in the ocean.
“That is talking about those with weapons; because not all of them have weapons. Ninety per cent of those who have weapons use them to protect themselves against cattle rustlers.
“They are victims too. Aerial bombardments will only worsen the situation because when you start killing their children, you remember they also have our children.”
Gumi, while speaking on the abducted Islamiyya students of Niger State, said he’s still trying to “talk sense” to the abductors not to collect “dirty money” from the parents of the kidnapped students.
The cleric said, “But we are trying to talk sense to them that these are just innocent schoolchildren. We don’t even have any idea of the condition of the children. We are just saying these are young children trying to study and they did nothing, so why are you trying to take dirty money from their families?
“This (kidnap of Islamic pupils) actually proves to the nation that the bandits are not really indoctrinated, they are just looking for money and I think that this is a good prognosis.
“They are not targeting a religion; they are not ideologues, which are difficult to deal with. We should not forget that they are not educated, formally or informally. They are just going about with cattle, and suddenly they found a lucrative way of finding money.”