•Cleric ought to be invited, say retired capt, lawyer
Bandits terrorising the northern a part of Nigeria final Monday proved proper the declare made months in the past by Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, that they had been buying anti-aircraft missiles to assault the nation’s army fighter jets.
About 154 days after Gumi gave the intelligence in an unique interview with Sunday PUNCH printed on February 14, bandits in Zamfara State, on July 18, gunned down a Nigerian Air Pressure Alfa Jet flown by Flight Lieutenant Abayomi Dairo.
The army plane perished however the pilot fortunately escaped and survived the lethal onslaught, in response to a July 19 assertion by NAF’s Director of Public Relations and Data, Air Commodore, Edward Gabkwet.
Gabkwet stated, “On July 18, 2021, round 12.45pm, a Nigerian Air Pressure Alpha Jet plane, coming back from a profitable air interdiction mission between the boundaries of Zamfara and Kaduna states, got here underneath intense enemy fireplace, which led to its crash in Zamfara State.
“Fortunately, the gallant pilot of the plane, Flight Lieutenant Abayomi Dairo, efficiently ejected from the plane. Utilizing his survival instincts, the pilot, who got here underneath intense floor fireplace from the bandits, was in a position to evade them and sought refuge in close by settlements awaiting sundown.”
Sunday PUNCH had in February interviewed Gumi shortly after his first well-publicised journey into the Zamfara forest to carry a parley with the dreaded bandits.
The cleric, who on return from the forest started a marketing campaign that the bandits be granted amnesty by authorities, disclosed within the interview that bandits had been answerable for the rising wave of kidnappings within the nation.
Gumi stated, from his interplay with the bandits, he had gathered that they had been kidnapping and utilizing ransoms collected to accumulate arms, including that they had been in strikes to buy anti-aircraft missiles for the aim of downing army jets.
He had stated, “Many of the kidnappings, they (the bandits) are doing it to accumulate weapons. They’re now attempting to purchase missiles, anti-aircraft missiles. That is already creating right into a full-blown insurgency and we should always cease that. And what we’re afraid of is that in the event that they turn out to be religiously radicalised, it’ll give rise to a different dimension, and it is going to be very tough to regulate.”
Stressing the purpose, the cleric added, “Like I stated, they’re accumulating ransoms to purchase weapons. Have a look at the herdsmen in Oyo and southeastern states, they aren’t shopping for skyscrapers or driving Mercedes; they’re nonetheless within the bush. They don’t need cash. They need their cows, not cash. They’re doing that (kidnapping) to boost cash simply to purchase weapons to repel helicopters and aeroplanes and to assault anyone that’s going to assault them.”
A 2020 report by SB Morgan Intelligence had acknowledged that, between 2011 and 2020, not less than $18.34m was paid as ransom by victims of kidnap throughout the nation.
“Total, Nigeria is changing into much less protected annually. Kidnapping has elevated in nearly all states, however the sharpest rise has been in Kaduna, Rivers, Katsina, Zamfara and Taraba, whereas solely Bayelsa, in your complete nation, noticed a fall within the variety of incidents in comparison with the interval of 2011 to 2015,” the report had acknowledged.
Whereas the July 18 assault on Nigerian Air Pressure jet proved Gumi proper, it’s unclear whether or not the federal government or safety forces did something with the knowledge months after Gumi volunteered it.
Bandits’ assaults in northern Nigeria grew to become worse thereafter, with a number of unchallenged mass abductions of scholars in colleges within the area, indicating that the bandits have turn out to be quite extra emboldened.
One of many worst hit northern states is Kaduna, whose governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, had overtly kicked towards Gumi’s proposed amnesty for bandits.
Within the interview with Sunday PUNCH, Gumi warned that any governor against the amnesty ought to retract their phrases to keep away from coming underneath bandits’ assaults.
Requested whether or not feedback like El-Rufai’s had the potential of worsening assaults by bandits, Gumi stated, “Such feedback are solely exposing the individuals who make them to risks as a result of many of those bandits grew to become bandits as a result of their youngsters, their relations, had been killed as collateral harm.
“So, I believe it is rather vital that such politicians retract their statements for their very own security as a result of these bandits are everywhere. They had been profiled and lots of the (army) bombardments have killed many harmless individuals, which is true. So, we have now to watch out about what we are saying, actually, as a result of Nigeria could be very fragile.”
Commenting on the downing of the NAF aircraft, Captain Bishop Johnson (retd.), in a telephone interview with our correspondent on Saturday, stated by now, Gumi should have been invited and questioned by safety businesses on his position within the Monday assault.
Johnson argued that it was even doable that the bandits bought the thought of buying anti-aircraft missiles on Gumi’s instigation, therefore the necessity for the cleric to be introduced in for questioning.
In keeping with Johnson, banditry had turn out to be a business enterprise with beneficiaries at many ranges, together with some individuals in authorities.
“Gumi ought to be an individual of curiosity and he ought to be invited to clarify his position. If he stated it then and it’s taking place now, Gumi ought to be invited,” Johnson stated.
Sharing Johnson’s view in a separate interview with Sunday PUNCH, on Saturday, a human rights activist and lawyer, Chief Malcolm Omirhobo, stated, “Gumi is meant to be a visitor on the Division of States Providers (workplace) all this whereas and it is rather unhappy that the DSS has turned a blind eye.
“In the event you take a look at the terrorist Act, it covers individuals like Gumi – individuals who maintain conferences with terrorists, individuals who negotiate on behalf of terrorists, and individuals who solicit on behalf of terrorists are additionally terrorists. And the federal government has been wanting calling the bandits terrorists however what the bandits are doing quantities to acts of terrorism.
“The federal government has to have a look at that terrorist Act; it’s not for enjoyable as a result of it’s shocking that the federal government has refused to ask and quiz Gumi – that is someone who stated he is aware of the place the bandits are and he goes there with authorities officers.”
Omirhobo stated the lack of the army plane was lamentable, giving the nation’s state of financial system.
“Thank God the pilot survived, however the authorities appears to not care in regards to the loss. Have you learnt how a lot the plane prices? However the authorities shouldn’t be involved. If that factor had occurred within the West or the East, your complete Nigerian Military would have gone there. That is discriminatory,” he stated.
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