The El-Rufa’i remedy against banditry

The statement credited to Governor Nasir Ahmed El-Rufa’i of Kaduna state to the effect that there is nothing like repentant bandits and that his administration’s policy is to dispatch the terrorists attacking innocent people to their creator to answer for their crimes against humanity, appears to many discernible minds as brutally frank and audacious.

The governor made the statement last week while briefing newsmen after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja. He said: “There is nothing like repentant terrorists. The only repentant bandit is the one that is dead. Our intention in the state is to kill them (terrorists), let them go and see God.”

El-Rufa’i, who was accompanied by his Commissioner for Internal Security Samuel Aruwan, said the whereabouts of the bandits were not hidden but that the military was mindful of the collateral damage it could cause the civilian community. “If the security forces cannot go to the bandits’ location, the state was helpless”.

The governor said he asked for the intervention of the president for more deployment of security forces and a comprehensive operation.

He charged the security agencies to carry out aggressive operations against the terrorists, even as he stressed the need for recruitment to be ramped up in the military and the police as the few number cannot successfully carry out operations in the 36 states of the federation.

He listed the categories of those behind the nation’s insecurity to include the Boko Haram elements, the bandits, and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), noting that the recent declaration of bandits as terrorists by the court had given the military more power to wage war against them.

Apparently, in sync with El-Rufa’i, Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina state has kicked against dialogue with armed bandits operating in the state and other North-west states. Masari spoke in a Sunday interview with DW Hausa radio. He was reacting to a controversial letter by a notorious bandit, Bello Turji, seeking dialogue with the government.

Turji wrote an open letter to President Buhari, Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara state and the emir of Shinkafi seeking dialogue and a ceasefire. Some experts had argued that the letter by Mr Turji was a ploy to stop airstrikes and military operations against his fighters.

Turji, alongside Halilu Sububu and other terror leaders, has carried out fatal attacks on eastern Sokoto and northern Zamfara states. Governor Masari, who had engaged in dialogue with bandits in the past, said the time for a peace accord has passed. Though the letter was not addressed to him, the Katsina governor said Turji was not sincere in his letter.

“Dialogue? With who? Who is he to talk of dialogue or ceasefire? He is a liar. He can’t tell us peace accord and dialogue. To sit and discuss peace accord with who? In what capacity is he speaking and even calling for dialogue,” Masari said about Turji’s letter.

“Go and tell those he (Turji) killed their families to do dialogue with him and see. And he is even setting conditions, what conditions is he setting and for what? He wants dialogue and he is even setting conditions,” the governor said.

Turji’s terror group is one of the several operating in the North-west and North-central states.

The groups, operating as bandits, attack communities at will, killing and kidnapping residents. Over a thousand people are believed to have been killed by such groups this year. Their activities have continued despite the heavy deployment of security.

 It is instructive that El-Rufai’s postulate came on the heels a peaceful demonstration by a group of northern youth under the aegis of Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) in Zaria, Kaduna state, to protest the incessant killings and kidnap for ransom by bandits, especially in the North-western zone of the country. The protesters in their hundreds converged on Kwangila and trekked to PZ area in Sabon Gari local government area of the state.

They carried placards with different inscriptions like “Zaria Peace Walk Against Insecurity, “End insecurity”, “North is bleeding” and “Secure North” chanting various songs. Addressing journalists on their mission CNG Deputy Coordinator in-charge of North-west, Comrade Sani Saed Al-Tukry, said the whole of the North is bleeding as nowhere is safe.

Citing Zaria-Kaduna road which was strategic gateway to many states across the country, he said it has become the epicentre of terrorism.

Al-Tukry said no day passes by without one unpalatable incident of kidnapping of innocent citizens with reckless abandon, saying “it has been a tale of blood, tears and gnashing of teeth which must not be allowed to continue.”

 They urged the federal government to order security agencies to mount and sustain special operations on all roads, particularly Zaria-Kaduna, Kaduna-Abuja, Kaduna-Birnin Gwari-Niger, Birnin Gwari-Funtua-Katsina-Zanfara-Sokoto.

He further stated that the terrorists’ enclave must be dismantled and murderous elements eliminated  or arrested to face the full wrath of the law.

Evidently, Governors El-Rufa’i and Masari are expressing their frustration with the inability of the security agencies to end the menace of banditry and kidnapping that are causing nightmares in their respective states. 

The governors, who have been victims of the deceit by bandits seeking dialogue and amnesty only to return to the trenches immediately, truly know where the shoe pinches. They deserve President Buhari’s attention.