Ahmad Gumi, has said bandits are militants who are fighting an “ethnic war” and have only killed a few people accidentally.
Gumi who spoke during a Channels TV programme on Monday, said bandits are not interested in killing people but only kill people when they are avenging the death of one of them.
According to Gumi, the bandits are mostly interested in ransoms from kidnapping and also open to negotiation.
“I choose to call them militants because they are fighting an ethnic war,” he said.
“They are kidnapping to get money. Look at the case where they released a bus full of people, they were asking for N500 million but now, they freed them with mere negotiations for free. Nothing was paid.
“Since there is a peace process, they are ready to lay down their arms, stop kidnapping and all the things they are doing.
“And you call them killer herdsmen, how many people do they kill?
“When they kill, it is mostly accidental, maybe somebody they took who is sick. But tell me who they have killed? How many? Few.”
When he was asked about instances where the bandits have razed down villages during attacks, he said such cases are motivated by revenge.
“That killing is not because of criminality but for ethnic revenge. And they don’t attack a village except that village did something to one of them,” he added.
The cleric also warned that the bandits might be influenced by Boko Haram insurgents operating in the North-East if the pressure is too much.
“I am afraid they can be influenced by Boko Haram. And we have seen the signs that Boko Haram is going to infiltrate them but so far, they are not Boko Haram.”
Attacks by bandits on unsuspecting citizens have been on the increase in recent times.