Sheik Ahmad Gumi has blamed banditry now common in Nigeria on cattle rustling.
In a Facebook post made on Monday, the Cleric who always speaks for bandits said the miscreants turned to killing and kidnapping because they were trying to cope with the adverse effects of losing their source of livelihood.
The statement read in part, “From the blues, in 2009 cattle rustling became rampant. Most of the cattle rustled were headed to the south in trailers where they are sold and slaughtered. This massive movement of rustled cattle greatly reduced their population. Most of the rustling first affected the rural herdsmen and it became more elaborate in the north-western region.
“Herdsmen were left with only one of three options. To join the rustlers or pay tribute to rustlers for protection or lose their cattle. In 2014, the military ‘intervention’ in the Birnin-Gwari Forest to fight cattle rustling changed the herdsmen into a resistance movement as many innocent Fulani Ruga settlements were murdered, men, women, and children in hundreds.
“By 2015, banditry has replaced cattle raring that is becoming nearly impossible. Drugs were introduced into the herdsmen that are known to be illiterates or semi-illiterates. The reaction of the town local vigilantes (a natural reaction to any communal aggression in self-defence) pitched the herdsman against the local rural helmets, villages, and adjacent towns to the forests as they are lynched and maimed whenever they enter markets. Therefore, everybody became an enemy and a target. Fulanis and other tribes, Muslims and non-Muslims were equally kidnapped for a ransom most of which goes to buying weapons.
“Profiling of Fulani herdsmen became another motivative factor of more resistance and more kidnappings which has now led to their metamorphosis into the monster the nation is facing today.
“We should also know that because of their educational status and lack of an effective unified leadership they have faced untold hardship at the hands of authorities where they were extorted and stereotyped. It has been imprinted in the psyche of nomadic pastoralists that the authorities and their town dwellers are ‘evil people’ that should be resisted because they have no place to secure justice for their cases no matter how innocent they may be.
“With their acquisition of weapons, they realized how easy it became to be masters of their abode the forest, where no authority can venture into. This has emboldened them to further attack people for more ransoms to sustain their newfound reality.