An Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, has been warned to watch what he says in order to avoid ethnic and religious crisis in the country.
The warnings came from the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), all of which yesterday, alleged Gumi is making inciting comments on the fight against banditry, depicting Christian soldiers as the ones killing bandits.
Gumi was seen in a video telling bandits that-“In the military, there are Christians and Muslims; the Christians in the military are the ones killing you (bandits) to cause problems.”
Reacting, the spokesman of the ACF, Mr. Emmanuel Yawe, called on the cleric to watch his utterances else he may gain the confidence of the bandits and lose the confidence of the people.
Yawe said: “I don’t think he is right by saying the bandits killed few people and accidentally.
“Where did he take the count to know that bandits kill only a few people? Gumi started a wonderful and laudable programme of dialogue with the bandits
If he does not watch his words, he may gain the confidence of the bandits but lose that of the general public that has been unjustifiably terrorised by the bandits.
“For Gumi to succeed in his self-appointed task, he needs the confidence of the two – bandits and society.”
ACF said the easiest way to destroy a country was to take a fight from civilians into the military, adding that a fight between Christians and Muslims in the army would destroy the army and the country.
“Even if Christian and Muslims civilians are killing each other, we should not introduce the fight to men who are legally armed to fight,” he said.
On its part, CAN described the statement by Gumi that bandits were being attacked by Christian soldiers as a bad omen, saying the comment was reprehensible and capable of causing disunity in the country.
Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, the Special Assistant to CAN President said- “If anyone said it was the Christian soldiers who are attacking bandits, that is a bad omen. We still want to believe that Sheik Gumi was quoted out of context
“But if it is true, then, the unity and peace of the country are being threatened. Such a grave allegation is ungodly, divisive, unpatriotic, ill-wind and reprehensible,” he said.
He continued- “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?
The Kaduna State Chairman of CAN, Rev. Joseph Hayab, said the divisive utterances of Gumi had raised doubt about the sincerity of his preaching and mediation.
HE stated that the military should not be presented as a Christian-versus-Muslim institution and called on patriotic Nigerians to condemn this and not allow anyone to promote such division in the military.
“The video in circulation came to us as a shock because when some of us were celebrating Gumi’s intervention with the bandits then this video came out.
“Though the sheikh has tried to explain or prove that the message was as a result of a report he got from an army personnel who came to report to him what was happening some years back, but a careful listening to the words Sheikh Gumi used in that the video has further increased our fears and suspicion,” he said.