Dominant Islamic cleric, Ahmad Gumi, on Thursday led the Secretary to the Niger State Government, Alhaji Ahmed Matane, and security operatives to a meeting with some suspected bandits in the state.
The delegation met with the armed men in Tegina forest, a border town between Niger and Kaduna states.
The development comes two days after gunmen abducted 27 students and workers of Government Science College, Kagara, Niger State.
The cleric, while suing for peace, reportedly preached to the gunmen and urged them to release all abductees. Gumi told the bandits that they had legitimate concerns and that the Nigerian government should look into ways of providing “reasonable” means of livelihood for them.
Speaking during the visit, the leader of the group, Dogo Gide, promised Gumi and others that all those kidnapped either directly by his people or by people he could influence, would be released soon.
Gide also showed the delegation an entire community said to have been razed in a military bombardment and corpses dumped in wells.
Other members of the group separately narrated their ordeal, frustrations, and why they resorted to banditry.
They said they only accepted the invitation because they were told it was Gumi.
It was one of a series of meetings the Islamic cleric has had with suspected bandits to broker peace deals with them.
Gumi had earlier in the month met with bandits across forests in Zamfara State, appealing to them to drop their arms.
In January, over 500 bandits reportedly agreed to lay down their weapons in Kaduna after he struck a peace deal with them.