13 months after Niger governor’s alarm: Boko Haram, Ansaru abandoned Sambisa for Kaduna forests – El-Rufai

Kaduna state governor Nasir El-Rufai

Kaduna state Governor Nasir el-Rufai has proposed the clearance and relocation of Katari, Rijana and Akilibu communities along the Kaduna-Abuja highway, saying they harbour criminals and informants.

He also raised the alarm that the Boko Haram and the Ansaru elements in the Sambisa forest of the North-east have now shifted base to Kaduna forests.

The governor’s red alert came after a similar one by Niger state Governor Abubakar Sani Bello some 13 months ago that insurgents had infiltrated his state and were just two hours from Abuja, the nation’s capital city.

What Niger gov said 13 months back

The Niger state governor had in April 27, 2021, while speaking to journalists during a visit to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs’) camp in IBB primary school Minna, said over 50 villages were overrun by the terrorists/ bandits and deserted by original inhabitants.

He also said the insurgents had “established territory in parts of Niger state and hoisted their flag in Kaure village from where they made spontaneous incursion into more than 50 villages in the past three weeks.”

“I am confirming that there are Boko Haram elements around Kaure in Shiroro local government of Niger state. They have taken over the territory. They have installed their flag. I am confirming to you now that they have taken over the wives of people by force,” Bello had said.

The governor had also said the Boko Haram terrorists were trying to make Kaure their home and headquarters like they did in Sambisa forest, warning that “while Sambisa forest is several kilometers away from Abuja, Kaure is only two hours drive to Abuja.”

El-Rufai’s latest fear

And 13 months after, Governor el-Rufai raised similar fear, saying the insurgents had relocated their abodes from Sambisa to Kaduna forests.

Speaking after receiving the first quarter 2022 security report which said 360 persons were killed and 1,389 others kidnapped in the state between January and March 2022, the governor said Boko Haram, ISWAP and Ansaru terrorists had abandoned Sambisa forests in the Northeast for Kaduna forests where they were recruiting young citizens into terrorism, having claimed that ‘Kaduna forests are better than Sambisa’.

The report was presented before the governor and combined security chiefs, as well as traditional rulers.

El-Rufai, who expressed worry about the influx of terrorists into the state, said the problem of insecurity had shifted from the Northeast to the Northwest, adding that the situation in the Northwest was far more serious and potentially more dangerous than that the Northeast.

He decried what he described as emergence of Boko Haram terrorists’ enclave as well as activities of Ansaru terrorists group, particularly in Birnin Gwari and Chikun local government areas of the state.

“This presentation has brought out new emerging concerns. The first great concern is the emergence of Boko Haram terrorists’ enclave as well as activities of Ansaru particularly in Birnin Gwari and Chikun Local Government. The terrorists were making comments like the forests in Kaduna are even better than Sambisa, so, they should all relocate here. I think this is an area we should all be concerned about.

“The problem of insecurity now has moved from the Northeast to the Northwest. What is happening in Northwest is far more serious and potentially more dangerous than we have ever had in the Northeast and we will like the military and other security agencies to take notice of this before it gets out of control.

“The second is the use of Improvised Explosive Devices (EIDs) and mines in the state. We have been lucky, thanks to the Police, we have been able to diffuse most of them without causing major loss of lives. This is still a major concern, because this shows very clearly the movement from banditry to terrorism with expertise in making explosive devices. Again, this is because Boko Haram and Ansaru elements have moved into the state.

“I noticed the continuous mention of Rijana, Katari and Akilibu axis in all these crimes, particularly as regards the safety or lack of it of Kaduna-Abuja road. We have been exploring what to do about these three communities, whether to relocate them to near Kagarko, whether to clear the three communities. I will like the security council to deliberate on it and look at the options.

“It is very clear that, there are higher levels of informants and criminals in these locations, because why is it that, anytime there is attack or any form of kidnapping on the road, it happens around these three axes and nothing ever happens on the Kagarko axis? There is something wrong with the Rijana, Katari axis and government should not refuse to do anything. We have to look at the options including the clearance of the settlements completely and relocation of the people to where other more honest people can watch them.

“The security agencies are overstretched, we need to ramp up our recruitment of our vigilance service volunteers, I think the 1,000 we trained have been very useful in assisting the Army, the Police and other security agencies and perhaps this is the time to get another 1,000 and send them to Police College for training. We have already bought weapons that are with the Commissioner of Police but we need more men and women.

“I will like to see resumption of flights at the Kaduna International Airport. We are grateful to the Defence Headquarters for enabling the establishment of the NDA Demonstration Battalion. I will like to appeal to the Air Force whose area of responsibility includes the Kaduna Airport to also have some kind of permanent deployment at the Airport to secure it so that flight can resume,” he said.

Aruwan presents report

Presenting the report, Kaduna state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, said 360 persons were killed by terrorists in the first quarter of 2022 in the state.

He said 1,389 persons were kidnapped while 3,251 cattle were rustled during the period.

He also disclosed that 258 persons were injured in the first quarter, adding that 10 rape cases were recorded during the period under review.

“The interaction between bandits and terrorist groups such as Boko Haram, ISWAP and Ansaru has been established, as evidenced by the deadly attack on the Abuja-Kaduna AK9 train on 28th March 2022,” the commissioner further said.

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