Kaduna: No amnesty for bandits, kidnappers – El-Rufai vows

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Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai on Wednesday restated his administration’s vow to stamp out bandits, kidnappers and other criminals from the state, saying there will be no amnesty for them as far as his administration is concerned.

Governor El-Rufai had recently disagreed with the Kaduna-based Islamic Scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, and others who have called for amnesty for the bandits.

El-Rufai spoke after he received the s State’s 2020 Annual Security Report from the Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs at Government House on Wednesday.

The report, presented to the governor by Commissioner Samuel Aruwan, indicated that at least 937 persons were killed, 1,972 others kidnapped and 7,195 cattle were rustled from January to December, 2020.

The governor, who vowed that the state will not negotiate with criminals, added that the bandits have challenged Nigeria’s sovereignty and must be defeated.

‘Our position in Kaduna State has been clear, unequivocal and consistent: bandits, cattle rustlers and armed militias must be degraded and decimated to a state of unconditional submission to constituted authority,’ the governor stated.

‘We will neither negotiate with criminals of any description nor support any grant of amnesty. Criminal gangs, bandits, insurgents and ethno-religious militias made a conscious choice to challenge Nigeria’s sovereignty and menace our citizens. These criminals must be wiped out immediately and without hesitation.

‘I am assured by the recent directive given to the federal security agencies to wipe out such gun-wielding criminals by the President. I am further encouraged by the stance of the federal government in my periodic interactions with President Muhammadu Buhari and Nigeria Governors Forum that there is near unanimity and broad consensus on the part of the national and sub-national political leadership – the President and the State Governors – on this course of action.

‘We, therefore, need to further empower the security sector to defeat the criminals, including providing the additional funds, the armament technology and the required personnel. This national consensus to eliminate all forms of insecurity must be operationalized immediately. Our people face deadly perils daily. Converting this national consensus into decisions and actions in support of our armed forces, police and other security agencies with human and material resources cannot wait.

‘Banditry has severely impacted the rural economy and shaken the confidence of citizens. It has driven farmers from their land, putting food security at risk, displaced communities, stolen property and deprived people of their right to life. We must put a stop to these criminal acts and enable our people to live their lives in peace and safety. This is a most urgent task.’

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The governor further added that ‘the security of our communities depend on the robust projection of state power, and that can only done with sufficient security numbers to overawe and deter criminals. The prerogatives of the state need to be asserted, not merely proclaimed. The people we put in uniform must never be placed in avoidable danger, outgunned or outnumbered by non-state actors.’

The governor reiterated his call for state police, saying: ‘In our view, critical to multiplying and reinforcing state power is a decentralization of policing. There simply are not enough police officers in Nigeria and the idea of policing such a vast, federal republic of nearly a million square kilometers in a unitary manner is not pragmatic. This arrangement has already proven inadequate and we should promptly replace it with state police and other levels of policing.’

In his presentation, Commissioner Aruwan said victims of kidnapping, banditry and other criminal activities cut across all ethnic and religious groups in Kaduna state, contrary to other narratives.

The commissioner noted that the total number of deaths linked to banditry and other forms of violence in 2020 is 937, adding that ‘of this number, Igabi has the highest figure of 152, followed by Kajuru with a figure of 144.’

According to Aruwan, Birnin Gwari, Igabi, Giwa and Chikun local governments in Kaduna central senatorial district account for 468 deaths out of the 937 people that were killed last year, representing over 50% of the entire fatalities in the state.

‘The southern senatorial district accounts for 286 deaths, which is about one third of the total, due in large part to sporadic clashes , alongside banditry which triggered attacks and counter-attacks, especially between June and November 2020,’ he added.

Aruwan further said that ‘out of 1,972 people kidnapped in the period under review, Kaduna Central Senatorial district accounts for 1,561 and out of the total, 1,461 were kidnapped within Birnin Gwari, Igabi, Giwa and Chikun local government areas.’

Present at the gathering were the three senators from the state, traditional rulers, security heads and other stakeholders.

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