Renowned Islamic cleric, Sheik Ahmad Gumi, has disclosed that bandits are planning to acquire anti-aircraft missiles to repeal attacks from the Nigerian military.
In an interview with The PUNCH on Saturday, the cleric noted that the bandits raised the money to buy the sophisticated weapons from ransom collected from families of kidnapped victims.
He noted that the bandits took to crime to revenge the killing of their families by cattle rustlers and the military through airstrikes, adding that they were victims seeking justice.
Gumi, however, asked both the federal and state governments to grant amnesty to the bandits so they could surrender their weapons and repent.
He warned that if the bandits are not attended to soon, they will become religiously radicalised and uncontrollable like the Boko Haram insurgents.
He said, “These people were the first victims of cattle rustling, who lost all their cattle to rustlers because then, the rustlers were having the guns. Then when they lost their cattle, they joined (the rustlers) and they started to kidnap people.
“In fact, most of the kidnappings, they (the bandits) are doing it to acquire weapons. They are now trying to buy missiles, anti-aircraft missiles. This is already developing into a full-blown insurgency and we should stop that. And what we are afraid of is that if they become religiously radicalised, it will give rise to another dimension, and it will be very difficult to control. You see what Boko Haram has become.”
The cleric also denied media reports and insinuations that the bandits were being sponsored by politicians or have foreign collaborators.
He said, “Like I said, they are collecting ransoms to buy weapons. Look at the herdsmen in Oyo and south eastern states. They are not buying skyscrapers or riding Mercedes; they are still in the bush. They don’t want money. They want their cows, not money. They are doing that (kidnapping) to raise money just to buy weapons to repel helicopters and airplanes and to attack anybody that is going to attack them. You have to understand the psychology of these people. They are not like our governors that are stealing money. They don’t want money. For them, cow is better than money.”