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Sunday, August 1, 2021

Sheikh Gumi: A loyal traitor?

By Bayo Fasunwon

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When a nation is at war, the essentiality of strategy comes to shore. The availability of weapons, men, and money would not, in all cases translate to victory at the battlefront. History has recorded the fall of sophisticated army formations before perceived rusty, local, and ill armed hunters. Victory was a function of strategy, and not strength. While conventional battles could be won easily, guerilla warfare and battles against informed bandits are usually hard nuts to crack. Much more difficult is when the enemies are residents and nationals against their States. When the latter occurs, Negotiators become necessary personnel in either the pacification or neutralisation of the enemy.
The negotiator, who is often a two sided fellow, must however define his loyalty and interest before the negotiation starts. Unfortunately, the definition of interests at most times is only known to the negotiator. Often times, and in history, negotiators had always sought to achieve their personal aims, while in the line of duty. That is why it is very essential to scrutinize, and subject to psychological examination, those employed to occupy such sensitive and dangerous positions in warfare. Nevertheless, the negotiator is not always loyal to any of the warring groups, but to self.
Given the danger inherent in the accepted task, the negotiator would at all times, seek his personal protection and security (physical, economic, psychological, and political) during and after the negotiations. The task of a negotiator becomes more hazardous depending on his acceptability by both parties, and who appoints him in the first place. If he is appointed by government, then he is rest assured that 24/7 his family and all his would be guaranteed and protected by taxpayers’ fund. When employed by abductors and terrorists, he is labeled a terrorist by government, and would be placed under surveillance. However, when he employs himself, he stands the risk of being suspected by both parties or being respected by one of the parties. Where does Gumi stand in all these? From all indications, he is not employed by Government and neither have the Bandits declared him as their negotiator. However, one observes that he has earned the respect of the Bandits. To earn respect suggests that he is trusted, accepted, and revered, possibly as a leader and or charismatic teacher of acceptable religion. From all indications, he talks with the rebels, but speaks to Government.
A personality analysis reveals a man who is well versed in the Quaranic verses, not just as a scholar, but also as a descendant of great Islamic Scholars. With the clipping of the wings of Shiite group, his larger than life personality fills the void left by El Zakyzaky. Thus, he has become a sought after teacher, scholar and visible figure in the corridors of power. As a revered teacher of the teachings of Islam, expectedly, his first love, like his biological progenitors, would be the propagation of Islamic teachings, and a believer of the need to islamise territories. If he is a conservative believer in the Quaranic verses, then he might be a jihadist, and possibly perceived as a terrorist. On the other hand, if his belief is that Islam is a religion that promotes and establishes peace, then we would perceive him as a true peacemaker, seeking the peace of Kaduna in particular, and Nigeria as a whole.
The peace loving and desirous Gumi is however doubtful, in view of past utterances. Seemingly, he has not hidden the fact that he has issues with the Nigeria military. Although hiding under the general rebuttal of being ‘misquoted out of context’, a transliteration of his meeting with the bandits had him telling the men in the bush that it is only non Muslim soldiers that are killing the bandits, and not Muslim soldiers. In other words, he suggests that there is a polarization of the Nigeria army because of religion. With that, a technical ‘fatwa’ is being suggested against non-Muslim soldiers. It also paints the Nigeria Army as being selective in their choice of attackers of the Bandits. This is a double-edged sword. It suggests that the military was deliberately sending ill-equipped non-Muslim soldiers to early graves or that the military was fighting Islam.
Recently, he also accused the military of having conspirators with Bandits in their fold. In other words, military officers are collaborators, kidnappers, and ransom takers. Although the military has denied his claims, and the DSS has invited him for questioning, the seed of mutiny, hatred, and mistrust has been sown in and against the military. However, with the conspiracy of military officers with Wandume, it is undeniable on the part of the military that there are bad eggs amongst them. Gumi may do well to expose them.
The peace loving Gumi has been seeking for the release of abductors, by ‘risking’ his life in reaching out to the bandits in their hideouts. His peace voyages have a recurrent denominator – the payment of ransom. He has not been able to appeal to the humanity of the bandits to release the abducted unconditionally. To many, he is just making money for the evil inhuman kidnappers. Nevertheless, it seems, his ideology is giving to Caesar, what Caesar demands. It is therefore not surprising that he is vehement that abduction cannot cease in Nigeria until government negotiates with the bandits. Of course, these negotiations would birth pardon for murders; release of millions of naira as compensation; international scholarships; training and employment in government establishments. On the other hand, he had also suggested that if that seems too extravagant, government should support one terrorist/bandit group against the other. Coincidentally, ISWAP successfully exterminated the ‘Shekau’, which the Nigeria army had unsuccessfully killed several times. He is suggesting that Nigeria adopt the Angola model in which this nation supported the MPLA against the other freedom fighters. Whichever government chooses to do, a group of Bandits find themselves feeding fat on the largesse of government.
Sheikh Gumi has however told all who cared to listen that “I don’t go straight to them. I am not a negotiator for them to collect ransom. Whatever I do, I always put the government between us. I have never been to any bandit without a government representative. All they say were in front of the official. Once I get a government official representative, there is no limit to how far we can go.”
In other words, if you think that he is pro-bandit and anti-government cleric, the government knows better.

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