Sheikh Ahmad Abubakar Gumi, an Islamic cleric and scholar, has alleged that security operatives are working with the bandits who are wreaking havoc across the country.
Speaking when he featured on Arise TV on Wednesday, Gumi accused some security personnel of giving armed gangs a soft landing.
Gumi, who described banditry as a business, said gunmen would not have had access to weapons without the support of some security personnel.
“These bandits, if you don’t know, are cooperating with a lot of bad elements in our security system. This is a business. So many people are involved, you’ll be so surprised.
“They were caught in Zamfara; they were caught everywhere, how do these big weapons cross our borders? How can these big weapons cross our borders and get into the forest without the cooperation of some bad elements of the security operatives assisting them? It’s not possible. If I give you the same amount of guns can you take it to the UK? You can’t, because the security is alert.
“Part of fighting this banditry is to overhaul our security system.”
Gumi also said it is unfair to compare bandits and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
He said while bandits abduct people for money, IPOB militants attack security operatives and destroy government facilities.
“IPOB is attacking the police, the army, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other government institutions; killing our men in service.
“And the herdsmen are kidnapping children not to kill them but to get money; so how can you compare somebody who is killing our gallant men directly to somebody who is kidnapping children to make money and not to kill them. Look, we need some fairness in what we are doing,” he said.
Reacting, the Nigerian army described as “sad and unfortunate” the statement made by Gumi.
In a statement on Wednesday, Brig.-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, army spokesman, said the statement was a calculated attempt to denigrate the military and undermine the sacrifices of the troops.
“The Nigerian army has just been alerted to a submission by Sheikh Ahmad Abubakar Gumi when he featured on ARISE TV Morning Show on Wednesday, June 23, 2021, alleging that the Nigerian military is colluding with marauding bandits who have been responsible for various crimes and atrocities against Nigerians and the Nigerian state.
“The Nigerian army (NA) wishes to state that contrary to Sheikh Gumi’s claims, the NA remains a bona fide symbol of national unity that has conducted its constitutional responsibilities in the most professional manner in line with global best practices of adherence to the rules of engagement and protection of the fundamental human rights of the citizenry.
“The sweeping allegation peddled by the scholar is not only sad and unfortunate, but a calculated attempt to denigrate the Nigerian military and undermine the sacrifices of our patriotic troops, who are working tirelessly to restore peace and stability across the country.
“It is essential to remind ourselves that these same military, being accused of connivance, are the ones who recently put their lives on the line to rescue abductees of the Government Secondary School, Birnin Yawuri from kidnappers.
“While the NA will not attempt to excuse the possibility of black sheep amongst its fold, it must be stated unambiguously that it will not condone any form of sabotage or aiding and assisting the enemy by any personnel, as provisions for dealing decisively with such acts are crystallised in section 45 (1) of the Armed Forces Act CAP A 20 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
“It must also be pointed out, that while the military is very much receptive to constructive criticism, it should not be perceived as a gateway for derogatory comments that have the potential to embolden criminals.
It is also necessary to reiterate that patriotism must be taken to a trajectory where subversive conversations on the state are brought to the barest minimum.
“Opinion leaders are enjoined to demonstrate patriotism in building the peace, rather than being agents of destabilization, thereby aggravating the current security challenges facing the nation.
“The NA wishes to reassure law abiding citizens that troops will continue to conduct themselves professionally in consonance with the code of conduct guiding our operations in all combat engagements, in line with the provisions of the Nigerian constitution and global best practice.
“Citizens are enjoined to continue to support military operations by providing useful information to defence and security agencies and together we shall rid our society of these criminal elements”, the statement noted.