Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, has warned Nigerians and media outlets in the country to refrain from labelling bandits ‘criminals’.
Sheikh Gumi has been mediating between the bandits and the federal government, he’s met with the bandits in different forests across states in the North.
Following his meetings with the marauders, the cleric had implored states and the Federal Governments to grant amnesty to the bandits, insisting that they are not different from the Niger Delta militants.
Appearing on Arise Television on Thursday, the Islamic scholar alleged the that media was aggravating the insecurity in the North by calling the bandits criminals.
He opined that such act will further undermine the efforts being made to tackle insecurity in the beleaguered north, urging Nigerians and journalists to be circumspect in their remarks about the bandits as they deserve to be treated with tender, love and care.
He further asserted that calling bandits unprintable names was counterproductive as it would fuel their wrath which would in turn make surrendering their weapons a tall order.
“You’re emphasising on criminality, even the press are criminals too because they are putting oil into fire,” Gumi said.
“These people are listening to you, you should not address them as criminals if you want them to succumb.
“Youths are ready to put down their weapons, now you are calling them criminals. How do you want them to cooperate?
“So you have to show them they are Nigerians, that they should not hurt children, be law-abiding. This is the language we want to hear, the press should assist us in getting the boys.
“You see when we talk with them with nice words, they are ready to listen to us, put down their weapons but when the language is about criminality, killing them, then this is what we will keep having.
“Let me show you something, I don’t wish you harm but if you are stopped by armed robbers on the road, you will not use the word criminal on them.
“Tell them good things so that you will save yourself. We are trying to save the nation from these youths that have a false sense of authority. The language we use is very important.
“We have a problem now, proliferation of arms, and there are drugs and semi-illiterate population. How do you deal with it? By castigating them and abusing them in the media?”
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