BusinessDay

Insecurity: When terrorists ‘bare their fangs’ on El Rufai’s Kaduna

Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State must have stirred the hornets’ nest when he openly canvassed and insisted on non-negotiation deals with bandits and terrorists.

In recent times, the Kaduna State governor had insisted it was worthless to engage in any form of negotiation with and ransom-payment to outlaws. He had said it at different fora and has not changed his stand.

While speaking in Abuja last week, Babagana Moguno, a Major General, and national security adviser (NSA) to President Muhammadu Buhari, alluded to El-Rufai’s stand and said the Federal Government was not going to be cowed into engaging in negotiations with terrorists.

His insistence also flies in the face of Governor Bello Matawalle’s adoption of negotiation as the only way out of the banditry menace. The governor of Zamfara State has insisted and shouted to the roof top that the Federal Government and indeed Nigeria must give amnesty to “repentant” bandits. He strongly believes that “repentant” bandits could be used to get things sorted out.

His line of thought synchronised with that of an Islamic scholar Ahmed Gumi, who said that the terrorists deserved to be appealed since they were pushed into banditry because of certain unfair treatment by the Nigerian state.

His proposition has since, however, been pooh-poohed not only by Nigerian masses, but by the Federal Government itself.

Perhaps, for El-Rufai’s latter day “no ransom” preachment, the terrorists have decided not to allow him to sleep with two eyes closed, as it were.

In the last two weeks, Kaduna has been in the news for the wrong reasons. Kidnappers have run berserk in the state.

Sometime last week, within a matter of hours, a number of foiled adductions took place involving school children and some adults.

In recent weeks, incidents of wanton killings have so increased that at a point, no day ever passed without reporting of killing. In some cases, entire members of families are wiped off.

Recall that El-Rufai used to be an advocate of ransom payment to terrorists. Sometime ago, during repeated incidents of killings and arsons in parts of the state, the governor had announced to bewildered Nigerians that he had to pay money to the killers to appease them to stop killing.

That incident may have put a question mark on his current stand. Some analysts believe that the governor must have so much whetted the appetite of the terrorists that his current decision is being considered an affront.

It must be stated that Kaduna State has lost so many lives and property on account of mindless activities of bandits. The economy of the state has also been badly wrecked.

Recently, El-Rufai said that there was no synergy among northern states’ governors on the fight against insecurity.

El-Rufai had reiterated his stand against negotiating with bandits who are terrorising the state.

In an interview with the Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the governor declared that any bandit arrested in Kaduna State would be killed, saying that “the state is at war with bandits”.

He had also disagreed with suggestions by Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, an Islamic cleric, that the bandits should be granted amnesty and compensated.

El-Rufai, however, said he does not believe in what Gumi is doing because the majority of the bandits do not have any religion.

Kaduna has been worst hit by deadly activities of bandits occasioned by invasion and destruction of communities, killings and abductions for ransom.

He said: “We (governors in the North-west) are not united to work together to eliminate these bandits. We in Kaduna and Niger states are communicating‎ on how to end this problem. We have been discussing with the Niger State governor.

“Anybody that thinks a Fulani herdsman that is engaged in kidnapping for ransom and is earning millions of naira would go back to his former life of getting N100,000 after selling a cow in a year, must be deceiving himself.

“Why should we compensate them after killing people, destroyed their houses? Who offended them?”

While speaking on ‘Politics Today’, a Channels Television programme, he said the governors were frustrated, almost helpless over the spate of killings and other criminal acts in the country. He said that governors are just chief security officers without having control over security agencies.

“I am frustrated in my state. Many governors are frustrated in their states. We are called chief security officers only in name, but we have no control over coercive instruments of state. We’re all frustrated. We are almost helpless,” he said.

A few days ago, the state government announced that at least, 937 people died in violent attacks and mass atrocities in Kaduna State last year (2020). This was contained in an annual security report by the state government.

The report attributed the deaths to kidnappings, banditry and other criminal activities that cut “across all ethnic and religious groups” in Kaduna State.

“Victims of criminal acts like banditry and kidnapping are to be found across ethnic, religious or political leanings and persuasions,’’ Samuel Aruwan, commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, had said while presenting the report.

The level of insecurity in the country has become a concern to all well-meaning Nigerians.

At a meeting Thursday, March 18, 2021, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, whose tenure was elongated recently by the President, told states’ representatives that states were not cooperating well enough with the police on the issue of security.

But the Secretary to Niger State Government, Ahmed Matane, who spoke on behalf of others, said the number of policemen in the state was inadequate and could not effectively police the state.

He said that over 60 percent of the areas in Niger were not being properly policed as a result of lack of personnel. Citing an instance with the recent abduction of school children in Kagara area of the state, Matane said the entire area did not have up to 80 policemen, whereas the terrorists that invaded the school were many in number, and with more sophisticated weapons than the regular police.

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