AGAINST the backdrop of insecurity in Nigeria schools, the Islamic cleric Sheik Gumi, has again advised the Federal government to negotiate with bandits in order to tackle the incessant abduction of students across the nation.
Gumi said the bandits kidnapping school pupils were disappointed that he negotiated with them without the involvement of the Federal Government.
The cleric insisted that until the government engaged with the herdsmen, no school will be safe.
He was soeaking on efforts to rescue the kidnapped pupils of Tegina Islamic School, Niger State.
He said despite efforts to secure the release of the pupils, the bandits were adamant in their financial demand.
“This (kidnap of Islamic pupils) actually proves to the nation that the bandits are not really indoctrinated, they are just looking for money and I think that this is a good prognosis. They are not targeting a religion; they are not ideologues, which are difficult to deal with. We should not forget that they are not educated, formally or informally. They are just going about with cattle, and suddenly they found a lucrative way of finding money.
“But with good engagement, education and enticements like jobs and other things, they will leave this work. But we need a partner and we need the government to understand. Individuals like me alone cannot do it.
“All those we met (have stopped kidnapping), except for one of them who is kidnapping again, and he told us his reason, that he was neglected and he thought we had the mandate to negotiate. But when he realised that we did not have the mandate from anybody, he said he was going back to his business.
“So, the earlier we go into engaging them, the better. The ones who have agreed to lay down arms, you can engineer them to take care of the rest.”
“To secure schools, why not engage the bandits. Engage them; they are not many. You can count them with your fingers. How can you guard schools? It is not possible.