The leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has expressed shocks, pains and disappointment in one Islamic leader, Sheik Ahmad Gumi over his alleged profiling of military operatives recently while addressing some bandits in Tegina forest, a border town between Niger and Kaduna States.
We call on Gumi to immediately withdraw the unpatriotic and divisive utterances credited to him in the interest of peace and unity of this country. Gumi was quoted as saying, ‘What I want you people to understand is, soldiers that are involved in most of the criminalities are not Muslims. You know, soldiers have Muslims and non-Muslims. The non-Muslims are the ones causing confusion just to ignite crisis.’
If anyone said it was the Christian soldiers who are attacking armed bandits, that person does not wish this country well and he doesn’t want the war against terrorism and banditry to end in victory. Gumi’s so-called audio evidence cannot be taken seriously because audio evidence can be deliberately arranged to make a point. Secondly, how can we ascertain the credibility of the person alleging that it was the Christian soldiers that were attacking communities and bandits? This unreasonable outburst is not only demoralizing and a plot to divide the Nigerian military into two along religious lines, it equally derogatively portrays the non-Christian soldiers as being not committed to fighting criminality.
We still want to believe that Sheik Gumi was quoted out of context. But if it was true, then, the unity and peace of the country are being threatened by the sentimental statement of this cleric. We have not heard the Presidency react to this dangerous statement as they are supposed to do, cautioning this cleric who has thrown caution to the wind. Such a grave allegation is evil, divisive, unpatriotic, ill-wind and reprehensible. We ask again, is Sheik Gumi trying to polarise the military along the religious divides? Is he inciting the bandits against Christians? Is Gumi saying that the Muslim soldiers are on vacation in the ongoing war against terrorists, murderous herdsmen and bandits? What good will this statement do to the insecurity in the country? We are of the opinion that the government of Nigeria should seriously caution Gumi for his reckless and inflammatory statement.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s prolonged silence is tantamount to an endorsement of Gumi’s dangerous statement. If what Gumi reportedly said was attributed to a Christian leader, the security operatives would have invited him or declared him wanted and the Presidency would have publicly condemned that Christian leader. We recalled how Apostle Johnson Suleiman, Dr Obadiah Mailafia, Prophet Isa El-Buba and of recent, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Dr Matthew Hassan Kukah’s statements were handled by security operatives and equally reacted to by the government. Do we truly have sacred cows in the country now? We are curious to know how Gumi was able to locate the whereabouts of the bandits when our security agencies are giving us the impression that they are invincible. If the terrorists can be located, what hinders the police and the military from arresting them and bringing them to book? Is anyone in government conniving with the terrorists so that this insecurity might continue?
Now that bandits are being pampered, money is being made available to them and highly respected politicians and religious leaders are speaking for them, criminals are being emboldened to commit their unlawful actions with impunity. Who truly offended these terrorists? What sin did the people they are attacking and kidnapping commit against them? Why should anybody be speaking in favour of the terrorists? Will pampering the terrorists not truly going to be around with us in the next 20 years as foretold by the immediate Chief of Army Staff?
Nigeria’s unity is on trial and if those running the country are playing the ostrich, there may be no hope of redemption. May God save our nation. The country belongs to Muslims, Christians and the unbelievers and any attempt to divide us against one another by any cleric or through the over-zealous divisive actions of those in government may spell doom for all of us.
CAN hereby calls for caution and restraint from all of us.
Barrister Joseph Bade Daramola.
CAN General Secretary
3 March, 2021.