From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has accused Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmed Gumi, of emboldening bandits and their activities in northern Nigeria.
Imo State CAN Chairman, Rev. Eches Divine Eches, stated these in an interview with journalists in Abuja ahead of its 45th anniversary and founder’s day scheduled for today in Owerri, Imo State.
He predicted that the rising insecurity in the north may consume the entire nation since government has not been sincere in checking the activities of bandits that have been unleashing terror on the masses.
He, thus, advised government to caution Sheik Gumi whose utterances, he claimed, have emboldened the bandits, thereby, promoting their inhumane acts in northern region.
He insisted that except drastic measures are put in place to curtail Almajiri phenomenon, banditry would remain in the north for a long time with devastating effects on socio-economic life.
He said: “You can’t have Almajiri system of life and government in the last 40 years in our nation bringing up people without any trace to families, hometowns or nationalities. These children are scattered all over the streets without you knowing that someday they would leave the street and go to the bush where they would begin to do the trade of kidnapping.
“Also, you can’t, in a sane nation, have the likes of Sheikh Gumi, a religious scholar, going about promoting banditry and you don’t think that this will continue. Yet, that is what we are seeing today. We are not seeing anything more than what we have planted.
“We allowed this thing (insecurity) to continue and it is now going to consume the nation, if drastic measures are not put in place to take them (Almajiri) out of the streets. Give them a sense of belonging, put them in school, and help them realise their potentials.
“These bandits were the Almajiri who used to be in front of our houses and begging. Howbeit, we are praying and that is why God is still sustaining our nation. I trust God will continue to sustain us in Jesus name.”
On the 45th anniversary, Eches said the programme was necessary because it would provide opportunity to remember the labour of past heroes, including over 250 retired church leaders and indigent youths and women across the 27 LGAs in Imo State, who were weak and retired.