The recent remark by an Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, stating that if coup plotters who committed treasonable felony could be granted pardon then there was nothing wrong with extending the same gesture to bandits, is both disturbing and immoral.
The cleric has in recent times met and interacted with the bandits. He appears to have a sense of affinity for these anti-state elements.
The Nigerian State has been rocked by activities of bandits in the northern part of the country, where they have on several occasions taken school children hostages and demanded ransom from the state for their release.
While Gumi is not a government official, his efforts seem to be instrumental to states affected by the activities of bandits and the entire northern region.
However, his recommendation is disputable. Using the pardon granted coup plotters as a shield to demand similar treatment for people who committed acts of war is baseless.
Gumi is advocating no punishment for people who sacked communities and destabilized people’s way of life. Criminals should be treated as criminals and should be made to face the law.
What examples are we setting with this type of mindset? It simply means people can hold the state hostage and there will be no repercussions for their actions, Hence every criminal should be granted amnesty because they all have reasons to back why they went into crime in the first place.
The government should tackle banditry as acts of aggression and bandits should be treated as enemies of the state. National pardon should not be a reward for those who destroyed lives, collected ransom for kidnapping, and want to retire to enjoy the proceeds of their criminality.