Popular Islamic cleric, Sheik Gumi, has once again reprimanded the tagging of bandits as criminals.
In an interview with newsmen, Sheik Gumi stated that, during the tenure of late President Musa Yar’Adua, a peace treaty was held between the government and Niger Delta warriors, and the warriors were tagged as militants and not criminals.
He said to him, they were branded as militants to justify what they were doing. He went on to say that bandits shouldn’t be tagged as criminals as such derogatory words used to describe them will not help in the peace process.
Responding to his recent comment where he said journalists are also criminals for describing bandits as criminals, Sheik Gumi said
”I was trying to emphasize that bandits are criminals. They are committing criminality. Kidnap is criminality. Rape is criminality. But I said don’t refer to them as criminals. Why? If you recall, there was a peace treaty between the late President Umaru Musa and the Niger Delta warriors. Were they called criminals? No! They were called militants.
To me, the word, militants gave to them was rather to justify what they were doing. So, bandits shouldn’t be branded as criminals too. Don’t call the bandits terrorists or label them with derogatory adjectives because we want them to come to negotiating table. If you keep calling them criminals, you are not encouraging the peace process. If you as a journalist, you are putting oil in the fire.
The nation is in flames and you are putting sentiments and fire to combust it. Is that not criminality? That’s criminality.
So, a journalist can be a criminal too if, for instance, there was a clash between a Muslim and a Christian in Kaduna and hundreds of people died and the journalist, instead of mellowing down his report, decided to add oil to the fire.
Journalists, in times of conflict, should mellow down their reports so as not to incite the public. Journalists can trigger war. So, any journalist who does that, that is criminality. I’m not referring to all journalists but a particular case; that journalist that is putting oil in the fire. Am I not a friend of journalists? I have nothing to hide. And all these places I’m going to, I moved with journalists. When I was going to Sokoto, I traveled with Arise TV, TVC and NTA.”