BY Ebunoluwa Olafusi
Lai Mohammed, minister of information, says bandits and criminal elements are more willing to listen to religious leaders as mediators than the government.
Mohammed said this during a programme on Television Continental on Friday.
The minister, while reacting to the meeting between Ahmad Gumi, a prominent Islamic cleric, and some bandits in Zamfara state, said there was nothing unusual about employing the services of religious leaders to act as a bridge between the government and bandits.
He said the government employs back-channel approaches in solving crisis.
TheCable had reported that Gumi met with some bandits in the forest of Zamfara and appealed for peace.
“Like I explained that when we want to resolve issues like this we use a lot of back-channels,” Mohammed said.
“Again it is not unusual to use a respected cleric to have the confidence of outlaws or bandits. As a matter of fact, they are probably ready to listen to him more than they are ready to listen to the government.
“They are probably ready to believe in them, so it is not unusual for him to act as a bridge between government and outlaws to find solutions.”
The minister said all stakeholders involved in finding a solution to the farmer-herder conflicts should also strive to reduce the tension, adding that waiting for President Muhammadu Buhari’s comments on the crisis is not of importance.
“I think we should lower the tension. Nigeria is a big country, diverse, we must continue to live together, recognising each other’s rights,” he said.
“We are not going to score any advantage by heating up the polity. I think the governors, traditional rulers, religious leaders are all doing their best that all issues are resolved.
“Comments are not of importance; it is the steps the government is taking, and I can assure you there are a lot of back-channel approaches being taken to ensure that all these crises are tamed.
“We are rising stoutly to the challenges of insecurity. This government is alive to its responsibility. We are not only rising but we are making a success of it.”