The federal government is waiting for a popular Islamic cleric, Sheik Ahmad Gumi, to assist it in tackling insecurity, Babagana Monguno, National Security Adviser, has said.
Mr Monguno, a retired Major General, made the revelation Thursday, while speaking to news men on worsening insecurity bedeviling the nation, at the State House, Abuja.
Mr Gumi who has been facilitating negotiations with bandits in Northern Nigeria demanded a blanket amnesty for the criminals terrorising citizens.
His demand was rejected by the federal government which ruled out amnesty for the criminals.
In Niger State, the governor, Abubakar Sani-Bello, narrated how the criminals faked repentance and return to banditry after monetery reward from his administration.
“Sheik Gumi is doing what he’s doing because he believes in what he’s doing. He’s a Nigerian and under the constitution he can talk to anybody. He can deal with anybody,” Mr Monguno said.
“I met with him when I went with the service chiefs to Kaduna, and we spoke generally during the meeting and he resolved to help government. We are waiting for him. That’s all I can say,” he added.
No need for mercenaries
He also said there was no need to engage mercenaries in the fight against insurgency as recently suggested by the House of Representatives.
“The President’s view and directive is that we will not engage mercenaries when we have our own people to deal with these problems. We have the personnel and resources, and the President has given a new lease of life to the Armed Forces,” he said.
“While government is not averse to talking with these entities, it also has to fully apply its weight. You can’t negotiate with people who are unreliable and who will continue to hurt society.
“We will apply the full weight of the government to deal with these criminals.
“These are not people looking for anything that is genuine or legitimate, they’re just out to take calculated measures to inflict pain and violence on innocent people. We must deal with them the way they need to be dealt with. We will fully assert the government’s will.
“This is basically a presidential directive. And there are so many issues when you come to the issue of mercenaries. It has to do with the issue of national pride also. I know you’d say can pride be more of a concern than our security? I do understand that.
“But what we are looking at here is that we have the resources, it’s just misapplication or underutilisation that has affected our ability to deal with these people,” he added.