Kaduna-based Muslim cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, on Tuesday, sought government’s permission to approach and have talks with bàndits who abducted about 287 schoolchildren from Kuriga Government Secondary and LEA Primary Schools in the Chikun Local Government Area of the state.

The Islamic cleric insisted that dialogue was the way to go, calling on President Bola Tinubu to take a different approach from his predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari, who rejected the dialogue.

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

The incident occurred barely 24 hours after insûrgents 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, bàndits invaded the Gonin-Gora in the same Chikun LGA, prompting residents to barricade the Kaduna-Abuja Expressway in protest against the abdúction of an unspecified number of people in the area.

Meanwhile, the government of the affected state has refused to dialogue with the bàndits to release the school children 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 bàndits is an unfortunate position. My advice is that the government should dialogue with the bàndits not only for these Kuriga school children’s abductions but all cases.

“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.

By Editor

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