Ahmad Gumi, a prominent Islamic cleric, says herdsmen learnt kidnapping from Niger Delta militants.
He said if the government hold talks with herdsmen, they will assist in flushing out the criminals among them.
Gumi has been advocating amnesty for bandits.
He said the bandits are themselves victims of cattle rustling who took to crime to defend themselves.
Speaking when he featured on Africa Independent Television (AIT) on Tuesday, Gumi said just about 10 percent of Fulani herdsmen are criminals.
The cleric said the bandits learnt kidnapping from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), saying if militants could be granted amnesty, then the same should be applicable to the bandits.
He said if the federal government grants them amnesty, the other 90 percent of the herdsmen will reveal the identity of the criminals among them.
“We didn’t take a different route of trying to solve this problem and that is why we are still here today. And when we say amnesty, we don’t mean that anyone proved to be involved in murder should go free as such,” Gumi said.
“They learnt kidnapping from MEND. I do not see any difference. They were the first victims of rustling. Their cattle is their oil. What we are seeing now is more of an insurgency than banditry. I can say 10 percent of the herders are criminals not 90 percent, in the end, they took up weapons to protect themselves from extinction.
“They themselves can take care of the little remnants of criminals among themselves because they don’t want anybody to bring mayhem to them.”