- Gumi denies arrest, explains why he was in DSS office
- Says I meet bandits with security officials as back-up
The Department of State Security Service (DSS), Kaduna quizzed Islamic cleric Sheikh Ahmed Gumi following his recent television interview in which he claimed soldiers were supplying arms and ammunition to bandits terrorizing parts of the country.
However, Gumi denied on Friday that he was invited or arrested, saying he was at the DSS office there for routine consultation on how to halt banditry in the Northwest.
The Army had warned Gumi on Wednesday that it “should not be perceived as a gateway for derogatory comments that have the potential to embolden criminals.”
Spokesman for the DSS, Peter Afunaya, told Channels Television on Friday that the agency indeed invited Gumi for questioning.
“Sheikh Gumi was invited by the Service,” Afunaya said.
He added: “it is not out of place for it to invite any person of interest.”
But he did not say why Gumi was invited.
I was not invited, was not arrested, says Gumi
Contacted on Friday, Gumi denied being invited or arrested by the DSS.
He said he was only in communication with the security agency.
He said he was with the DSS director in Kaduna State in continuation of consultation on how to check banditry.
He said his meetings with bandits were always with the knowledge and backing of security agencies.
He pleaded with Nigerians to work for the unity and peace of this nation.
His spokesman, Tukur Mamu said Gumi met with the DSS director in Kaduna State for only 15 minutes on Thursday.
It was learnt that Gumi was invited because of his comments that some elements in the military and security agents were aiding banditry.
Gumi, who spoke with our correspondent on the phone, shortly after his weekly Tafsir (Exegesis of Quran) , said he was in his house in Kaduna as at 5.46pm.
He said: “There was no arrest. I am in contact with all the security agencies. I am only in communication.
“I have never ventured into the forests without their escorts and their men with me and state officials, traditional rulers and Fulani traditional leaders.
“So, it is a continuation of consultations as we carry on our missions.
“All you are hearing is not true. There was no any invitation or arrest. I told you I was in communication with them before we started going to the bush.
“I have been with the authorities, I never went there alone. Look at all the video recordings, you will see all the police and security officials.
Gumi was optimistic that Nigeria will overcome its security challenges.
He added: “Nigerians should come together. We can overcome all the difficulties we are facing. ”
On his part, the spokesman for Gumi, Mallam Tukur Mamu, who is also the publisher of Desert Herald, said: “The most important news is that Sheikh Gumi has not been arrested. There was nothing like arrest during the entire process.
“About invitation or lack of invitation or whether he was at DSS office in Kaduna or not, I think that should not even be the issue. Anybody can be a guest at the DSS office. And as a Nigerian and as somebody that respects constituted authority, any invitation granted to him by any authority, the Sheikh will be willing to always go.
“Nigerians should understand that even before this development, Sheikh Gumi has been interacting with the police, the DSS and even the Army.
“So, he has interacted with the highest authority of the Army even recently in Kaduna when they came for an event. So, there is nothing wrong, for example, for him visiting the DSS office. And they used to advise each other. He used to offer his own advice to them, even to the highest authority, on what he believes is the best approach to follow.
“As officials, they also have their own advice for him. They also used to give him advice. And it is always in the interest of peace and in the interest of the whole nation.
“I think what I can confirm with the highest authority is that the Sheikh is at home. In fact, we just finished one of his weekly programmes of Tafsir and there is nothing like arrest at all.
“I think that should be the issue of concern on whether he was arrested or not.
“On the issue of invitation as I said, he wasn in the DSS office yesterday (Thursday) for about 15 minutes and it was a direct contact between him and the State Director of DSS and nothing more.”
A source said Gumi was invited because of his comments that some elements in the military and security agents were involved in banditry.
The source said: “Sheikh was invited over his comments on Arise TV News that some elements in the military have been auding bandits.
” I think the Army did not go through the content of the interview before issuing their statement on Gumi. The Arise TV News also clarified on Thursday that Gumi mentioned some elements.
“Gumi’s position has been amplified by the statement of the Nigerian Army which claimed that they are not ruling out the possibility of bad elements among them.”
News of Gumi’s alleged invitation by the DSS was broken by the Hausa Service of Voice of America (VOA)
According to the VOA, Gumi was invited by the Kaduna office of the DSS after the military authorities took exception to comments by him alleging that their operatives were conniving with bandits.
Reacting to Gumi’s television allegations on Wednesday, army spokesman, Bigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu said contrary to the cleric’s claims, the NA “remains a bonafide symbol of national unity that has conducted its constitutional responsibilities in the most professional manner in line with global best practices of adherence to the rules of engagement and protection of the fundamental human rights of the citizenry.”
He added: “The sweeping allegation peddled by the scholar is not only sad and unfortunate, but a calculated attempt to denigrate the Nigerian military and undermine the sacrifices of our patriotic troops, who are working tirelessly to restore peace and stability across the country. It is essential to remind ourselves that these same military, being accused of connivance, are the ones who recently put their lives on the line to rescue abductees of the Government Secondary School, Birnin Yawuri from kidnappers.
“While the NA will not attempt to excuse the possibility of black sheep amongst its fold, it must be stated unambiguously that it will not condone any form of sabotage or aiding and assisting the enemy by any personnel, as provisions for dealing decisively with such acts are crystallised in Section 45 (1) of the Armed Forces Act CAP A 20 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
“It must also be pointed out, that while the military is very much receptive to constructive criticism, it should not be perceived as a gateway for derogatory comments that have the potential to embolden criminals. It is also necessary to reiterate that patriotism must be taken to a trajectory where subversive conversations on the state are brought to the barest minimum.
“Opinion leaders are enjoined to demonstrate patriotism in building the peace, rather than being agents of distabilization, thereby aggravating the current security challenges facing the nation.”
Gumi had met with over 500 armed bandits in Zamfara State on February 2, 2021 to negotiate for the release of the over 300 boys were abducted from Government Secondary School, Kankara, Katsina State,.
He also stepped in when dozens of students were kidnapped at Government Science College (GSC) Kagara, Niger State.