North-East Elders for Peace and Development (NEEPD), a Northern group, has condemned what they call profiling of Nigerian soldiers by Kaduna based Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi.
According to Ripplesnigeria, Gumi, who had been interfacing with terrorists carrying out attacks in the North-West and the North Central geopolitical zones, was qouted to have said that non-Muslim soldiers had carried out orchestrated killings in some communities, leading to the activities of the terrorists commonly referred to as bandits.
“What I want you people to understand is, soldiers that are involved in most of the criminalities are not Muslims. You know, soldiers have Muslims and none Muslims. The non-Muslims are the ones causing confusion just to ignite a crisis,” Gumi was qouted to have said during one of his missions to the forests.
The NEEPD however said that Gumi’s allegations were not a representation of the position of the region, saying the public must see the comments as “his personal sentiments”.
The elders also called on the general public to discountenance the allegations in a statement by its Coordinator, Zana Goni on Wednesday, vowing to resist attempts by any individual or group to profile the military.
The NEEPD also said there was need for prominent groups and organisations in the North to condemn Gumi’s dangerous claims in order not to give the impression that he was speaking for the region.
The elders also reasoned that by his comments, Gumi may be justifying armed banditry and all that was associated with the crime.
The group also wondered why an Islamic cleric and scholar, who had taken the initiative to discuss with bandits, would end up taking sides, as his statements suggest.
The statement reads in part: “As Northern elders committed to a united and indivisible nation, we hasten to condemn in very strong terms the allegations made against the Nigerian military by one of our leading Islamic scholars, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi
“We rise in one voice to dissociate ourselves from the dangerous and divisive allegations levelled against our patriotic soldiers by Sheikh Gumi, in one of his missions to meet with bandits in a forest around Niger State.
“Ordinarily, we would have commended the Sheikh for daring to do what authorities failed, but for the profiling comments attributed to him, which we consider abhorrent and unhelpful to national development and peace.
“We warn that comments such as this have the potential of pitting the exposed soldiers against general areas in the North, where they have continued to put down their lives to protect the territorial integrity of the nation from those that seek to violate it.
“Our concern is further hinged on the possibility of the world concluding that the North may be offering tacit endorsement to banditry and associated crimes against society.
“To douse this tension, therefore, we call on relevant authorities, including prominent individuals and groups from the North, to condemn Gumi’s position in a manner that will absolve the region of conspiracy and vicarious liability, in the long run
“In whatever position we find ourselves, we must, at all material times, endeavour to put the collective interest of Nigeria over and above all other considerations, bearing in mind the fact that when the country collapses, it will do so on all of us, regardless of religion, ethnicity, or belief.
“Lastly, we urge Gumi to stop approbating and reprobating at the same time, and to immediately call-off his mission, if he has developed lethargy in the course of undertaking visits to deep forests.”