Popular Islamic cleric Sheik Ahmad Gumi has warned Nigerians against addressing bandits as criminals.
Mr Gumi who gave the warning on Thursday while featuring on Arise Television, also accused the media of fuelling insecurity.
He said the criminals should be pampered and described with nice words if the nation wants them to turn a new leaf.
“You’re emphasising on criminality, even the press are criminals too because they are putting oil into fire,” the cleric said.
“These people are listening to you, you should not address them as criminals if you want them to succumb.
“Youths are ready to put down their weapons, now you are calling them criminals. How do you want them to cooperate?
“So you have to show them they are Nigerians, that they should not hurt children, be law-abiding. This is the language we want to hear, the press should assist us in getting the boys.
“You see when we talk with them with nice words, they are ready to listen to us, put down their weapons but when the language is about criminality, killing them, then this is what we will keep having.
“Let me show you something, I don’t wish you harm but if you are stopped by armed robbers on the road, you will not use the word criminal on them.
“Tell them good things so that you will save yourself. We are trying to save the nation from these youths that have a false sense of authority. The language we use is very important,” he said.
He also advised the federal government to look into the recent threat of Niger Delta militants to resume destruction of oil facilities across the country, beginning with Lagos and Abuja.