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School abduction: Sheikh Gumi offers to negotiate with bandits

Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, has revealed his intention to dialogue with bandits who abducted about 287 schoolchildren from Kuriga Government Secondary and LEA Primary Schools in the Chikun Local Government Area of the state, The Punch reports.





The Punch said that Sheik Gumi said this in a bid to facilitate the release of the abducted schoolchildren should President Bola Tinubu give him the opportunity to negotiate.




According to the prominent Islamic scholar, President Tinubu must not repeat the mistake made by former President Muhammadu Buhari, who refused to dialogue with bandits.



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The PUNCH reports that bandits invaded the Kuriga area of the Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State, shooting at their victims before taking away at least 280 of the pupils and teachers from both schools.






The incident occurred barely 24 hours after insurgents abducted 200 internally displaced women in Borno State.





The women were kidnapped in Ngala, the headquarters of Gambarou Ngala in Borno State, while fetching firewood in the bush.





Penultimate Thursday, bandits invaded the Gonin-Gora in the same Chikun LGA, prompting residents to barricade the Kaduna-Abuja Expressway in protest against the abduction of an unspecified number of people in the area.




Meanwhile, the government of the affected state has refused to dialogue with the bandits to release the schoolchildren and has also refuted claims that it had hired a private negotiator to facilitate the release of the victims.




However, reacting to the development, Gumi said in a statement, “The government’s stand of no negotiation with the bandits is an unfortunate position. My advice is that the government should dialogue with the bandits not only for these Kuriga school children’s abductions but all cases.


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“Also, the government should use the same approach it used in releasing passengers that were abducted on the Abuja–Kaduna train in 2022 to release the Kuriga school children and others.




“I am ready to lead a holistic dialogue between the government and bandits. It is my religious duty to do so for peace.





“I hope the present government of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu will listen by dialoguing with the bandits because the past administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari refused to do so.”





Gumi had previously negotiated on behalf of state governments to free abducted people by bandits.





In May 2021, one of the parents of the kidnapped students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, Kaduna State, said rather than point an accusing finger at Gumi for being complicit in the banditry ravaging the country, Nigerians should commend the cleric for his interventions in seeking the release of abducted persons in the country