It is a battle of words between the presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina and controversial Islamic scholar, Sheihk Ahmad Gumi.
Gumi had earlier in the week warned that notorious bandits are going nowhere until the Nigerian Government grants them amnesty like it did to the Niger Delta militants.
The cleric, who has access to bandits, disclosed this in a post on his Facebook page entitled: ‘Zamfara: The Flaring Of Crisis.’
Gumi warned that military action against armed herders would worsen the insecurity situation rather than solve it.
Citing the incident in Afghanistan, the Kaduna-based scholar insisted that no military, especially of a poor economy, can win guerrilla warfare.
The statement reads partly: “By 2015, banditry has replaced cattle rearing that is becoming nearly impossible. Drugs were introduced into the herdsmen that are known to be illiterates or semi-illiterates.
“Just as we had the Niger Delta conflict resolved with an amnesty which comes with reconciliation, reparation, and rehabilitation packages, so will the herdsmen crisis be resolved. In fact, there is a need for a Marshal plan to educate the nomadic pastoralist so that no citizen is left behind.
“No military, especially of a poor economy, can win guerrilla warfare. The recent victory of the Taliban in Afghanistan is a factual warning for those that contemplate.”
In a subtle response, Femi Adesina without mentioning Gumi’s name in a post on his Facebook page Thursday said “bandits are going to hell”.
The post titled; “I like this pampering. Don’t you?”, Adesina subtly referred to Gumi as a “bandit-lover”.
He wrote, “Before they got to this sorry pass, they had the chance to turn a new leaf. Zamfara, Katsina, and many other states offered dialogue. The governments tried to negotiate with them. But they were contumacious.
“Like dogs fated for destruction, they refused to hear the hunters’ whistle. They filled the land with sorrow, tears, and blood, ‘dem regular trademark’ (as Fela Anikulapo-Kuti would say). Now, the shoe is on the other foot.
“In the different evil forests, when the Nigerian Air Force strikes from the sky, the remnants of the evildoers not killed immediately attempt to flee. The ground troops then pick them off like flies. I say it again. One has never been prouder of our troops. They are cleaning up the country.
“Shocking and disconcerting, however, that in the middle of all these, you still hear words meant to discourage our gallant soldiers. A bandit-lover is on record as saying military offensive would not work, and that the bandits “are going nowhere.” True? False. They are going somewhere. And that is: hell.”
In response, Gumi in an article titled, ‘War Has Never Been A Solution Anytime Anywhere,’ said; “You bootlicker that called me a bandit-lover! I am not one, but my country-lover, my region-lover, my state-lover, and my people-lover, and humanity-lover.
“I am a qualified medical doctor who knows what it takes to precisely excise a brain tumour without destroying the delicate surrounding brain tissues. I was a commissioned military officer who knows what the military is for and what is the capability of our military. I am an intellectual with a PhD from abroad. I am an Islamic scholar who knows the immorality of killing innocent lives. So, silence for me in this ocean of oblivion is not an option.
“Only a fool would allow his dwelling to be a theatre of war. Unfortunately, how many fools are there. Killing rats in your rat-infested sitting room with an iron rod will only end up destroying your gadgets and furniture probably without killing any. We should not mask out poor governance with artillery power.
“Some disingenuous people say: peace and negotiations with herdsmen, bandits have failed, and your mission has failed!
“I said my mission has not failed but it was sabotaged or discouraged by the same influential people that benefit from the chaos or like us to destroy ourselves and leave the herdsmen in perpetual ignorance.
“Some said we have tried amnesty but it didn’t work. You didn’t try amnesty but tried amnesia. Amnesty without rehabilitation, reconciliation, and reparation is no amnesty. Ask the former Niger Delta Militants who killed security men in the past what an amnesty is. What stops us from having a federal ministry of Nomadic Affairs where their grievances and complaints will be addressed?
“All the bandit leaders we saw complained of how some repentant ones were picked and extra-judicially killed after the surrender of their weapons. Without their trust of the very unjust system all Nigerians complain of, which they took arms to fight, peace and negotiations with them will not work. This brings our role of mediation. They know as religious men we will not deceive them, and they came out in troops to meet us. To our astonishment, it is the same unjust system that turns round to betray our peace mission. Some of the press for giving a negative narrative, whom I also term criminals-in-purpose, some of the politicians who I see as urban-bandits who out of their share mismanagement of our meagre resources and misplacement of priority cause the death and infirmity of more people than the bandits affect.
“Of recent, how many Nigerians die of cholera -a water-born disease- because of lack of simple clean water to drink, or typhoid, malaria, and malnutrition? A nation with a maternal mortality rate of almost 500,000/annum because of the lack of adequate maternal health facilities and qualified staff. A country where its highly-priced medical personnel is looking for a window to escape the inferno. Such a country, please!”