Sheikh (Dr.) Ahmad Abubakar Mahmud Gumi is an Islamic cleric and scholar based in Kaduna. He was born in Kano on the 1st of October 1960, the very historic day Nigeria gained independence from the Great Britain. He was a former military officer with the rank of Captain in the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA). He is the current ‘Mufti’ and ‘Mufassir’ (scholar and writer) at the Kaduna central mosque. Gumi went to Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria and after graduation he enlisted into the Nigeria Defence Academy. He resigned from the military service at the rank of Captain and moved to Saudi Arabia to further his Islamic education at the Umm al-Qura University where he studied Islamic Jurisprudence.
Sheikh Gumi is currently championing the unofficial policy of appeasement towards the terrorists, bandits and the Fulani herdsmen in the northern region of the country. From Kaduna to Zamfara, Niger to Katsina states Gumi had been reaching out to the bandits and terrorists in their camps inside the jungles fraternizing with them, negotiating freedom for abducted students and preaching about submission to the will of Allah.
He had donated Islamic books and other materials to the outlaws comparing them with MEND, the militant Niger Delta forces bombing oil installations and blowing up pipelines before the late President Yar’Adua granted them blanket amnesty. But he was being economical with the truth as the comparison rings hollow and senseless. Comparing MEND to the terrorists and bandits up north is like comparing apples and oranges.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) was like a militarised pressure group that fought for the control of their natural resources being exploited by federal forces for the development of other lands where oil and gas were non-existent. More or less they were fighting for their rights! They smartly employed economic sabotage strategies to achieve their aim and objective.
But despite his mediatory role, Gumi had stirred controversy for advocating talks and a general amnesty for the criminal groups responsible for the recent wave of kidnapping and banditry in northern Nigeria. Yet he is based in Kaduna where the diminutive State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, is known to be against any negotiation or payment of ransom to the bandits or abductors.
Gumi, a Fulani, appears poised to make his mark at a critical time under Buharism when security challenges are multiplying by the day. Bereft of sound education, buffeted by massive unemployment and beaten silly by anthropogenic poverty Gumi’s Fulani brothers had found a lucrative avenue, banditry and kidnapping for ransom, to hit back at a careless society.
The brazen way and manner Sheikh Gumi was going about the mission of appeasement or negotiation with the outlaws in the jungle leaves much to be desired. While his interventions had produced certain positive results (release of hostages for example) they had failed to halt the organized lawlessness in the northern region of the country.
While some bandits had been talked out of banditry surrendering their arsenal of war to the government in exchange for rehabilitation and reintegration into the decent society some of them had reneged on their promise of peace by going right back into the jungle to continue their murderous criminal activities.
Sheikh Gumi could be described as the strong advocate of the bandits and kidnappers. He has a soft spot for them! He had called for them to be granted blanket amnesty. At a time he had advocated for a Ministry to be created that would cater for their welfare and needs! And at another time he had argued for handsome ransom to be paid in exchange for those kidnapped!
Recently a Senator representing Niger East in the National Assembly, Mohammed Musa, had declared on Channels TV that Gumi should be invited over by the security agents for questioning over his affiliation with bandits. The federal legislator opined that since Gumi knew the whereabout of the bandits meeting with them in the forests he should be able to provide the Nigerian government with information that could help to neutralise their operations.
According to Senator Musa: “I think somebody like Gumi should be asked how he has contacts to reach these people. And if he can reach these people, why is it that he has not been able to help the government to get these people neutralised”.
And recently too, a group calling itself the Southern Nigeria Frontier (SNF) had issued a statement calling for the Islamic cleric to be arrested “for his persistent defense of the dangerous bandits terrorising Nigeria especially, the North-West region”. Berating the Buhari regime as ‘soaked with nepotism’ the SNF group’s spokesman, Olufemi Lawson, claimed they would be “petitioning the relevant members of the diplomatic community, International Criminal Court and the UN agencies over Gumi’s complicity in the crime against humanity”.
Calling on Nigerians to be alert and extremely vigilant the SNF declared that “we would not surrender to these terrorists and their enablers who are trying to take advantage of the silence of the federal government, to impose their war on all of us…Nigerians must gird their loins and be prepared to defend themselves and their land against marauders who are all over the place terrorising them.”
But come to think of it, is Sheikh Ahmad Gumi untouchable or above the law? Or both? These questions deserve to be asked given the effrontery with which Sheikh Gumi goes about his self-imposed mission of reconciling a hopeless helpless society with their tormentors. Every crime merits its punishment in any decent society.
We hold that either the controversial popular Islamic scholar is one of the untouchable Nigerians out there and therefore above the law or he is working in cahoots with the Buhari regime. Otherwise, his pro-terrorism/banditry activities ought to have been enough ground for the Department of State Services to invite him over for questioning or go for his outright arrest and prosecution.
Pray, if Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka of the Adoration Ministry fame in Enugu, for example, were to be seen on video visiting the Eastern Security Network camps in the jungle in the South-east engaging them in nocturnal meetings, distributing holy Bibles and advocating for amnesty for them would the DSS not have swung into action by arresting or detaining the fiery Catholic priest?
If the military could apprehend the Nollywood legend, Chiwetalu Agu, in Onitsha not too long ago for wearing a flowing gown with the colours of the Biafran flag and the rising sun then Sheikh Gumi must be a special Fulani breed indeed. Perhaps the authorities are aware of what he is doing and therefore in tacit support of same.
Our considered position is that since Sheikh Gumi had demonstrated his capacity as a vocal unapologetic apologist of terrorists, bandits and kidnappers he ought to be interrogated and investigated by the security agency specialized in such field. Perhaps in doing so it could be discovered that Gumi holds the key that could unlock the underworld of the rogues and outlaws making life a living hell for our compatriots up north.
What is good for the goose should also be good for the gander. In a nation where double standards are applied in the interpretation of the law and the enforcement of same, in a huge zoo of a society where some animals are more valuable than the rest and therefore treated favourably there is bound to be social frictions and tensions.
The solution is simple: sound indiscriminate leadership! Let Muhammadu Buhari, the embattled President, demonstrate one today.