Popular Islamic Cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, has warned Nigerian journalists to stop addressing bandits as criminals so that they will willingly put down their weapon.
Speaking on Arise Television on Thursday, Sheikh Gumi berated the media journalists for fuelling the insecurity problem by describing bandits as criminals.
He said if the media wants the bandits to surrender, they should stop referring them as criminals because such words will harden their hearts from putting down their weapons.
Gumi said the bandits should be treated with nice words and made to see that they are Nigerians and also part of the society.
“You’re emphasising on criminality, even the press are criminals too because they are putting oil into fire. These people are listening to you, you should not address them as criminals if you want them to succumb,” he said.
“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.
“When we talk to them with nice wordings, they are ready to put their weapons down, they are ready to listen to us. But when the language is about criminality, about kill them, jail them, then this is what we end up 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?
“You’re talking to yourself, they don’t even listen to you so the best for us is the clergymen, the respected people, elderly try to reach them.
“Put sense into them, when you go, they lower their heads, they will listen, they will start giving excuses, accept their excuse but show them the way out. We are trying to nurture them out of this criminality.
“You have the power of media, you should use it to bring people together not try to spread things that divide people.”
KanyiDaily recalls that Sheikh Gumi had earlier claimed that Fulani herdsmen involved in banditry are peaceful people who were victims of circumstance.