Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, has debunked reports that he was either quizzed or invited for questioning by the Department of State Security Service (DSS) over his remarks against the military.
Speaking after presiding over a Jummat service at the Sultan Bello Mosque in Kaduna State on Friday, Sheikh Gumi said all his interventions with bandits inside the forest were done in collaboration with the support of the government and security agencies, hence he did not commit any offence.
“Nobody invited me for questioning or any arrest, I can say that categorically,” the Sheik said, adding, “since I ventured into the forest, I went there with full security, the police, with the knowledge of the DSS, traditional rulers and the Fulani leaders, I never went alone,” he said.
He also insisted that he never made any disparaging remarks against the military during his recent live interview on national television.
According to him, there was nowhere in the TV interview that he categorically accused the entire military.
The DSS had earlier on Friday said it invited the cleric for questioning.
“Sheikh Gumi was invited by the Service,” the service’s spokesman, Peter Afunaya, said in response to an inquiry. The spokesman added that “it is not out of place for it to invite any person of interest.”
Although the DSS did not confirm the rationale behind the invitation, it may not be unconnected to the Sheikh’s recent outspokenness on the issue of banditry in Nigeria.
The cleric believes that amnesty should be extended to bandits, who he says have been ‘forced’ into criminality due to, in part, government neglect.
“When I listened to them, I found out that it is a simple case of criminality which turned into banditry, which turned into ethnic war, and some genocide too behind the scene; people don’t know,” Sheikh Gumi said in an interview in February.
The cleric said that while “there is no excuse for any crime; nothing can justify crime, and they are committing crime,” the bandits were forced into criminality.