Declaring bandits as terrorists is just a decision taken for political expediency, renowned Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, has said.
According to him, “I think the Federal Government has succumbed to media blackmail by a section of the country.
“It will not have any practical value because even before the declaration they are being fought and treated as terrorists.”
The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court had declared proscribed bandit groups as terrorists.
Specifically, the court, in a ruling that was delivered by Justice Taiwo Taiwo, held that activities of Yan Bindiga and Yan Ta’adda bandit groups, constitute acts of terrorism.
Gumi, in a statement issued by Malam Tukur Mamu ,the Dan-Iyan Fika and Media Consultant to Sheikh Gumi, the Muslim scholar said: “So it’s just a nomenclature which I believe will not change the dynamics on ground.
“If you can remember, IPOB was also declared a terrorist organisation. The declaration was even backed by the order of the Court, but as you can see even the international community did not recognise FG’s declaration on IPOB.
“So it has failed to be effective or to achieve the desired results.
“They have not been banned from travelling to other countries, while their citizenship remains intact; it has not been denounced. “So what type of declaration is that?
“I sincerely hope that Nigerians will not take the herdsmen as terrorists, but should regard the criminality of the few among them against innocent people as acts of terrorism just as we see IPOB and their attacks on security agencies and other northern citizens as acts of terrorism.
“Very few herdsmen are bandits if you go through their population.
“I hope this declaration will not give the licence to people to be profiling herdsmen in general as terrorists and taking laws into their hands against them.
“It will cause more mayhem. The declaration will not change anything, it will not change the dynamics. Already the military is engaging them.
“It didn’t stop them from kidnappings and killings. The declaration will not end their aggression against the society.
‘It is a socio-political problem’
“The Fulani banditry is a socio-economic problem. We have seen it, we interacted widely with them.
“We told the federal government the way out. It can only be won through engagement, dialogue and justice.
“That is why today there is relative peace in the Niger Delta because government have accepted the painful reality of rehabilitating and empowering them.
“There has to be equitable distribution of wealth in Nigeria and justice for every one.
“People don’t want to accept it. Before the issue of banditry that now affects all of us, the Fulani have suffered so much.
“They have lost their legitimate means of livelihood; I mean their cows through cattle rustling and extortion by security agencies.
“That has to be addressed as a means of genuine reconciliation and integration. They should have sense of belonging,” Gumi said.