Bandits- saints and IPOB criminals

Source: Prof. Nathan Uzoma Protus
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Prof. Nathan Uzoma Protus
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Oh What a Country!
In a country with severe security challenges, it would be very uncharitable not to acknowledge the efforts of a well-meaning citizen to bring peace to his crisis-prone country at their personal risk. I want to personally congratulate Sheikh Gumi for his risky adventure and for carrying out a patriotic duty of intervening in a worsening security problem in our country.

Is it not plausible that Sheikh Gumi went into and returned safely from the forests enclave of bandits and herdsmen who terrorize the whole country? Wow! What a mission accomplished! Sheikh Gumi deserves an international award from the United Nations for being so patriotic to a nation that hardly rewards patriotism.

What a country! where the murdering, burning, raping, and kidnapping bunch have “legitimate concern and grievances” for which they want to be respected and compensated for and not be denigrated as ‘bandits’. It is a shameful and sad metaphor of governance failure.

The curious gesture has exposed the laxity of Nigerian government and left us with many questions. What is Sheikh Gumi’s relationship with bandits? How can a band of bandits boldly display their criminality and why a respected cleric like Gumi would openly associate with them? Is Gumi playing the script of President Muhammad Buhari and other Fulani politicians? Why has Gumi not been arrested, interrogated and jailed for knowing where the criminal Fulani herdsmen live?

Further questions that we may eventually not find answers to are, have President Buhari created jobs for his Fulani kinsmen? Are they Nigerians and why should the Federal Government compensate criminals who rape, kidnap and kill innocent Nigerians? Is this a case of my “strategy is backfiring and I don’t know what to do”? Sadly, amidst all these, why has the central authority (FG) responded so feebly?

Buhari-led administration has categorically done so much to embolden and give confidence to these criminals/terrorists/Bandits/insurgents with sophisticated weapons including changes in their nomenclature to confuse the international society and went ahead to proscribe IPOB and designated them a terrorist group through a court judgment. This leaves a sane mind to wonder…..What a country? I still maintain that the Federal Government should revisit the issue of IPOB proscription because you cannot be encouraging Fulani herdsmen who now carry AK 47 everywhere terrorizing our entire nations and continue to hunt for IPOB and ESN as criminals; this in my humble opinion is the apogee of injustice. O Nigeria, what a country!

The question that bothers the mind presently is, whether there is a relationship between IPOB’s agitations for self-determination and the responses of the Federal Government of Nigeria? The Federal Government should try to listen to the various voices from different geo-political zones calling for total restructuring of this country.

Why has the Federal Government of Nigeria hesitated to activate the government’s security machinery to firmly address criminality across the land? Since, under the country’s political structure, only the Federal Government can marshal the resources to confront this manifest evil. It is difficult to decipher what this is all about.

The whole situation is very preposterous. The negotiations, amnesties and compensations are wrong prescription for wilfully perpetrated acts of evil. Anyone with a grouse may engage in kidnapping, rape, and murder with the expectation to be eventually settled. That must not happen or allowed.

Let’s call a spade a spade!
We are not stupid in this country!
Why are the bandits, the saints and IPOB, the criminals?

Why has the cleric seem to find wisdom in Nigeria cowering to the bandits, but we should all remember that cowards die many times before their deaths.

Our mumu don do ooh!
Bandits, by whatever names they are called, are criminals with no noble motivating cause but to rob, kill, and destroy for purely material benefits. They are outlaws who live by plunder. Insurgents, obnoxious as their strategy of terror and violence may be, are driven by some fundamental, well thought-through and clearly articulated convictions to revolt against civil authority. But by their motives and modus operandi, the people Gumi met with are bandits, who, in a civilized state under the rule of law, do not deserve to be “settled” but rather to be punished.

The comparison between IPOB and the forest bandits is as flawed as it can get. There is no basis to think that what is good for the goose is in this case good for the gander. It is never justifiable in any polity that aggrieved persons or groups should resort to self-help, where structures of government exist and are functional to enable an orderly and fair resolution of grievances and conflicts.

Sheikh Gumi, after an extensive chat with the bandits, deduced that poverty and insecurity pushed the bandits into crime. In a word, he seemed to say, they are poor and shy men, victims of circumstance and fellows who would thrive under agreeable living standards.

But wait! Contrary to Gumi’s claims, no one would want a decline in fortune or income, regardless of whether that fortune was channelled into living luxuriously or procuring weapons. The bandits and kidnappers have been making outrageous sums of money, numbering millions per victim. If the bandits really wanted to live better lives, the N200m as alleged they had coerced from the Local Governments of Zamfara alone and other such blood wealth would have been used to improve their infrastructure.

Advocating compensation for bandits was a stretch too much from the cleric, whose intentions are assumed to be pure and in the interest of peace. The desire for peace, however, must neither erode nor subvert moral and legal justice.

Only the aggrieved can fully tell what damage the bandits have wrought on their lives. Those who have suffered should not be forced to behold in horror as their oppressors are compensated while they end up with nothing; not even the short end of the stick. It would be as sorry and unforgiveable a day as it was when one bright mind in the presidency decided that the only thing to do with captured Boko Haram insurgents was to rehabilitate them, garb them in white clothes to signify purity, and reintroduce them into the society of those they had hitherto oppressed.

Justice may not always manifest itself in the form of vengeance, but it must always prevail. “Our focus should be on how to save lives of every Nigerian. Lives of people are involved and we must not play politics with that.

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