eople in Nigeria tend to rise to prominence in the wake of a tragic event. Because of this, Mr. Ahmad Gumi has emerged as a mediator between bandits and the families of their numerous victims. In fact, Mr. Gumi’s prestige has risen so much that he now informally consults for the Nigerian government on banditry, throwing out unsolicited advice from time to time. All this, the Department of State Security, which is normally quick to pick up anyone who raise important questions about Nigeria’s security, casually turns aside. It has been a long time coming, and it goes back a long way.
After the execution of its leader in 2009, the terrorist organisation Boko Haram sprouted incredibly deadly fangs, which fangs it has since buried into Nigeria’s neck. To guarantee that its tremors were felt across the country and even in neighbouring countries, the cult started in Borno State in the north-eastern part of the country.
This group has destroyed a wide range of structures including schools and churches as well as mosques, homes, businesses and more. Thousands have been killed and many more have been uprooted in their own nation. As a result, many children have been seized as slaves and their livelihoods destroyed. Boko Haram’s frenzied orgy of death and devastation has given birth to Nigeria’s darkest fear early in its development.
As a result of the operations of Boko Haram, other criminals who had previously shied away from the limelight have decided to come out of hiding. Bandits and ranchers prey on what Boko Haram leave behind.More and more attention is being paid to bandits.
Many Nigerians have been killed and their hearts crushed by the bandits’ unchecked criminality. The bandits, unlike Boko Haram and the IPOB, which have long been designated terrorist organisations by the Nigerian government, have remained mostly unknown and faceless in their aims and leadership. They have let their devastation speak for itself by using it as a weapon of mass destruction.
In particular, the criminals have perfected the practice of kidnapping and demanding a ransom in exchange. Their primary playground has been Kaduna state. Students have been kidnapped and kept for days, and their families have been compelled to pay enormous ransoms in order to secure their release. An attack on the Nigeria Defense Academy in Kaduna State by bandits in August 2021 showed just how bold their criminal madness has been. In addition to the deaths of two troops, a third was taken hostage.
They have never had a voice until now, and it looks like Mr. Gumi is their sole interlocutor at this point. People in Nigeria who have been victims of horrible crimes committed by bandits may have questions to ask him, if that is the case. For Mr. Gumi to be able to speak on their behalf, he must have some knowledge of their deeds, or at least of his interactions with them, since they communicate through him and he is not hesitant about defending them in public statements.
Federal authorities moved swiftly to label the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) as an extremist group in 2017. There is insufficient evidence to substantiate an organisation like IPOB being labelled “terrorist,” but the Federal Government has taken advantage of this to pound a sledgehammer into IPOB’s skull. This could be a terrorist organisation, but it had not yet done enough to warrant such a designation at the time it was labelled such.
IPOB may have been considered a terrorist organisation, but bandits have done considerably more. So why has the government been reluctant to label them terrorists?
A few weeks ago, Mr. Gumi argued that labelling Nigerian bandits as terrorists would lead to an increase in their fatal attacks on innocent Nigerians. But the fault in his reasoning was underscored by the fact that there was no counter-argument to the effect that not labelling them terrorists would de-escalate their attacks on the Nigerian people. For those clamouring for banditry’s proscription, Mr. Gumi had some choice comments of his own.
Despite mounting doubts about the long-term sustainability of the Nigerian enterprise, the government has adopted an unofficial strategy of distributing blame in an uneven manner. Since unfairness and inequality have been raging for so long, it has become far too simple to distribute power selectively to those who are more fortunate. The reality cannot be avoided this time around.
There are now no finer instances of terrorism and terrorists in our country than the horrors that bandits have inflicted on innocent Nigerians and their families. This is why the Nigerian government must put aside its concerns and call bandits what they are. However, the government should not merely name them; it should also humiliate them by halting their heinously illegal conduct.
As a matter of urgency, we must leave Mr. Gumi and his bandit sympathisers behind, as well as the terrible apologies they have set out for the criminals. The powerful Federal Republic of Nigeria should not be held to ransom by a single individual or organisation.
In other clime, individuals with questionable character such as Gumi would have been arrested a long time ago by the law enforcement agency of that land for questioning and interrogation as regard the whereabout of these ‘invincible’ bandits whom only him (Gumi) sees at will. He walks in and out of the bandits’ camp as if it is his living room, has the audacity to come to national tv to broadcast his meetings with the bandits and act as the ‘intermediary financial institution’ between the victim’s family and the bandits, that is, the parcel boy in charge of collecting ransom from the victim and/or government and delivers to the bandits in the thick forest. Yet the Federal Government of Nigeria sees nothing incriminating about this fellow. Nepotism in the highest order indeed!
In this modern-day of science and technology, one would think that the security forces would be wise enough to place a tracking device on Mr. Gumi and place 24 hours a day and 7 days a week surveillance on his trail so as to ascertain how, where, when he does have contact with the bandits he deemed unreachable by others except through him.
Before now, a veteran actor that only adorn a costume that what the Federal Government of Nigeria termed ‘the Biafra colour’ was picked up on the spot by members of the State Security; Channels TV was suspended for airing the view of an IPOB member; countless protesters in the South East of Nigeria, without provocation, had been shot at sight and killed in their numbers by the Nigerian military for waving the ‘Biafra flag’; Sunday Ighoho, the erstwhile agitator from the South West, got his home invaded at an ungodly hour and several occupant in his home were slaughtered by the State Security; Nnamdi Kanu, the agitator from the South East, had been locked under the den of the State Security and his home was also invaded a while back and scores were killed; and many more countless extrajudicial killings have gone unnoticed all because the government of the day is known to quickly wield his bloodthirsty sword on individuals who oppose it view from the South but rewards criminal elements in the North.
This has to stop now! Let the same hand that deals with the South with a tight fist do likewise to the North.
A word is more than enough for the wise!