Prominent Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi has led a Niger State government delegation headed by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Ahmed Ibrahim Matane to meet with bandits in the state.
The meeting is part of efforts targeted at facilitating the release of the abducted Kagara students and staff as well as the abducted passengers of Niger State Transport Authority mass transit.
Naija News gathered the meeting between the government officials and leaders of the bandits held at Dutsen Magaji, Mariga Local Government Area of Niger State.
On his part, the SSG appealed to the bandits to lay down their arms, embrace peace and release the abducted persons.
He said the government is ready to dialogue with them in order to ensure lasting peace in the state.
The bandit leaders on their part, demanded the release of some of their people presently in the custody of security agencies in exchange for the freedom of students, staff and passengers currently in captivity.
This they gave as a condition for peace to reign.
In his remarks, Sheikh Gumi who expressed optimism that a deal can be reached to secure the release of those kidnapped and ensure their safe return, appealed to the bandits to embrace peace and dialogue.
He also presented Islamic materials to the bandits for them to be better educated in the ways of Islam, noting that Islam forbids the killing of innocent persons.
It will be recalled that Gumi had earlier on Friday, held a meeting with the Niger State Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello to discuss how to secure the release of the kidnapped Kagara students and staff.
Before meeting the Governor, Naija News had previously reported that Gumi had on Thursday visited the bandits in the Tagina forest of Niger State.
Speaking shortly after meeting Gumi, the Niger State Governor debunked trending rumours that the kidnapped persons have been released.
Though he noted that efforts are in top gear to secure their release, Bello said they are yet to regain their freedom.
Meanwhile, Sheikh Gumi has urged the Muhammadu Buhari-led government to grant ‘blanket amnesty’ to bandits.
Speaking to reporters after meeting with Governor Sani Bello of Niger State on Friday in Minna, Gumi advised the federal government to extend amnesty to bandits as it was done to Niger Delta militants.
The cleric asked the government to arrest and prosecute any bandit who goes ahead with criminal activities after amnesty has been granted.