FG threatens Gumi with arrest, condemns reckless statements

The Federal Government, on Monday, said it would not hesitate to make anyone answer for comments it believes to be provocative or “reckless” as “no one is above the law.”

The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, said this while addressing journalists at the State House, Abuja, after the Federal Executive Council meeting.

Days after terrorists kidnapped at least 287 pupils from Kuriga, Chikun Local Government Area, Kaduna State, Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, had offered to dialogue with abductors.

Gumi advised that to facilitate the release of the abducted schoolchildren, the President should allow him to negotiate.

The Islamic scholar warned against Tinubu repeating the mistake made by his immediate predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari, who refused to negotiate with bandits.

Reacting to a question about the episodes of controversial comments and intervention by the Kaduna-based cleric, the minister said he was aware that Gumi had had reasons in the past to be a guest of security agents to answer for his comments, adding that the government would go after anyone who it believed had questions to answer.

“What I can tell you is that the government will not stop at anything to get any kind of information that is required to solve our problems. The security agencies are up and doing. Sheikh Gumi, or any other individual for that matter, is not above the law. If you have suggestions that are constructive enough for the security agencies to take, they will take.

“But if they think that he is also making some statements that appear to be reckless, he will also be reprimanded. There is nobody that is above the law in this regard. And I’m aware, let me put it here, that I’m aware that he has also been a guest of the security agencies to answer questions.

“When you make remarks, especially remarks that border on national security, it is incumbent on the security agencies to dig further into that, and they are doing just that. No one is above the law in this direction,” he said.

All efforts to speak with the Kaduna-based Islamic cleric, Gumi, were futile as his mobile phone rang out on Monday. He had also yet to reply to messages sent to the same mobile phone as of the time this report was filed.

Meanwhile, Idris stated that no ransom was paid for the release of 137 pupils kidnapped from Kuriga, Chikun Local Government Area, Kaduna State as well as the 17 Islamic school pupils kidnapped in Sokoto who were released last Saturday.

According to the minister, the president appreciates the role of the security services in the safe return of the abductees, vowing that all those involved in the kidnapping would be fished out and punished.

On March 6, terrorists on motorcycles stormed the school in Kuriga, whisking the pupils away in an operation that drew an outrage from the Presidency and the global community, including UNICEF.

However, a statement issued Sunday by the Director of Defence Media Operations, Maj. Gen. Edward Buba, said 137 pupils were rescued, contrary to reports of 287.

According to Buba, the pupils were rescued through a joint effort of the military and local authorities in Zamfara State in the early hours of Sunday.

On the release of the abductees in Kaduna and Sokoto, Idris said the council and the President had expressed their appreciation to the National Security Adviser, the security chiefs and others who participated in the process that ensured their freedom.

The minister further assured Nigerians that those currently feasting on the gaps in the nation’s security situation and perpetrating criminal activities would soon be fished out and be made to face the law.

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He said, “Mr President and members of council were happy to note that, as promised by Mr. President, these children were reunited or have been rescued from the captors and as usual and in keeping with the commitment of Mr. President, no ransom was paid.

“The Federal Executive Council and Mr. President are very grateful to especially the National Security Adviser, the service chiefs and all security agents who participated diligently in ensuring that these kidnapped children are reunited with their families.”

Idris said the government was determined to “ensure that the lives and property of all Nigerians are protected at all time. Therefore, he (the President) has charged security agencies to ensure that these kidnappings are brought to a halt finally in this country.”

“Indeed, all those who are participating in this criminal act will be fished out by the security agencies and will never go unpunished,” he vowed.

Fielding questions on the exact number of children kidnapped from Kuriga, Idris argued that the number of those kidnapped was the exact number that were recovered as none died or remained in captivity.

“What I can tell you is that there is no report that any of these kidnap victims either died or has been withheld. So, all those that were taken have been brought back in safety to their families. I can tell you that,” he said.

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