Ahmad Sheikh Gumi, an Islamic cleric, has asked Nigerians to exhibit greater empathy and compassion toward bandits in order to help their repentance and reintegration into society.
Sheikh Gumi made this claim at a lecture at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Kaduna State, on Thursday.
Residents may build a “mutual relationship with the bandits without being hurt,” he added, adding that “if people listen to the bandits, they will grow open to abandoning their violent methods.”
In answer to a question from a pupil, Gumi described his contacts with the robbers.
My interaction(s) with the bandits have been easy because I always go through the door, not the window. If you go through the door, you will go in and come back safely,” the cleric said.
“When we meet them, we don’t talk; we give them the microphone to speak even for one hour,” he stated in answer to why the bandits did not take him despite numerous encounters.
“When we initially approached them, we noticed that they had their warrant (weapons) drawn and ready to shoot. They’ll give up their weapons by the time we complete our meeting, and we’ll be snapping photographs.
“So this is the power of human connection, which is what social scientists are here to investigate. That is the strategy.”
He said that his nonviolent attitude earned him the respect of the robbers, and he urged Nigerians to follow like.
That is the respect I give them. I say come, come and sit with me. Come and sit down. I want to hear from you. With that respect, the Fulani man, you can get him.
“So don’t be surprised, if you are nice to him, if you are ready to listen to him, if you are trying to understand his problem, if you put your legs in his own shoes, he will listen to you, you will go to the forest and return safely, God willing,” the cleric said.