CONTROVERSIAL Islamic cleric Sheikh Ahmad Gumi has dismissed insinuations that he benefits from the proceeds of banditry pointing out that he does not make any more from the ransoms handed over to free kidnap victims.
Over recent years, heavily-armed bandits have been terrorising the northwest geo-political zone, controlling large swathes of territory, particularly in Zamfara and Katsina states. Powerless to stop them, state governors have been forced to enter into dialogue with these bandits and even offer them money to lay down their arms.
Sheikh Gumi has recently been acting as a go-between in several high profile kidnap cases, getting involved in negotiations with the armed bandits. On March 11, for instance, 39 students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, Kaduna State, were kidnapped by armed bandits and it was Shekih Gumi, who directed them to a Fulani man named Ahmed to secure their release.
After the introduction, the parents then paid N800,000 ($2,000) to Ahmed and as a result of the payments, 10 out of the of the 39 abducted students were released. This has attracted widespread criticism, with Sheikh Gumi accused of being a major beneficiary of the criminal kidnapping enterprise.
Hitting back at his critics, however, Sheikh Gumi described the allegation against him as unfair because he would never contemplate doing such. He added that his allegiance to the government, security agencies and the nation should not be doubted.
Sheikh Gumi once asked the federal government to grant an amnesty to bandits just like it did to Niger Delta militants. A few days ago, he also said bandits only abduct students for money while groups like the Indigenous People of Biafra kill security operatives across southeast Nigeria.
In addition, Sheikh Gumi said that as a medical doctor who served in the military, he can never benefit from such proceeds. He added that Islam prevents people from partaking in what he termed dirty money, so he cannot go against that preaching.
Sheikh Gumi said: “As an Islamic cleric who doesn’t drink alcohol, doesn’t gamble and opposes people from getting dirty money from activities like corruption and prostitution, it would be unbecoming of me to take money from the proceeds of this crime. Whoever thinks about that is not being fair.
“Secondly, as a medical doctor who is a healer, how can I contemplate benefitting from dirty money where people lost their lives?. After sacrificing myself for the nation and serving in the army, I don’t think anybody should doubt my allegiance to the state, government, security and the nation.”