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Northwest insecurity worse than Boko Haram insurgency, El-Rufai warns

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Northwest insecurity worse than Boko Haram insurgency, El-Rufai warns

El-Rufai

The security challenge of banditry and kidnap-for-ransom pervading the Northwestern parts of Nigeria is more dire than the Boko Haram insurgency in the country’s Northeast, says Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai.

Speaking at a special media briefing organised by the President Communication Team in Abuja on Thursday, the Governor said that “tens of thousands” of people are being killed or kidnapped in the Northwest by criminals with no ideology or clear-cut agenda, except to pillage and make money.

The Northwest States include Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto, Kebbi, Kano and Jigawa.

El-Rufai said the criminality of the bandits is mind-boggling, but they do not occupy territories like Boko Haram, whose activities he described as attracting more passion because of their intentionally religious bent.

The Governor further revealed that the Kaduna State government was aware of the location of the bandits but cannot do much because it lacks the federal might to muscle up the appropriate arsenal to tackle the criminal, who he said often have more lethal weapons than security forces.

His words: “I am persuaded that the insurgency in the Northwest is far more serious than Boko Haram both in terms of the numbers of the people affected. I have shown you the numbers in Kaduna. I can assure you that the numbers on Zamfara, and Katsina are up to three times this if they are keeping tabs. The numbers in Sokoto, Niger, and Kebbi will be about this.

“We are talking of tens of thousands of people getting killed, getting kidnapped. It is far more serious than Boko Haram. The only thing is that these guys don’t occupy territory, they are in the forest and ungoverned spaces.

“So, they do not attract the kind of single minded attention that Boko Haram does. And because Boko Haram’s ideology is religious, intentionally religious, it elicits more passion but really, this is a far more serious problem.

“Because, this is a situation largely in which people of about the same ethnicity, same religion are killing each other, stealing each other’s property. Creating an industry out of criminality. It’s very, very serious and it requires single-minded attention.

Northwest insecurity worse than Boko Haram insurgency, El-Rufai warns

“Yes, we know where these bandits are, we have the maps. But somebody has to go in and kill them. I can’t do that. If that somebody doesn’t have enough men, doesn’t have enough fire power, doesn’t have technology, no one is going to commit suicide.

“This is why under this administration, Nigeria’s Governors Forum collaborated with the Federal Government to take money from the Excess Crude Account to buy Super Tucano jets and other armament to strengthen our defence system.”

Nonetheless, the Kaduna State government under him since 2015 has spent over N21 billion on tackling the banditry and kidnapping challenge, including sundry support to various security agencies operating in the State, the Governor said.

“The last time we calculated, in recurrent security support to federal agencies and our own vigilance service and so on, we had spent close to N21 billion. But we are talking about seven years. In terms of capital investment, drones, safe city, radio frequency, GSM Tracker, we bought our own, we don’t rely on the NSA or the DSS, we have ours”, he stated.

He also defended the government’s decision not to name the sponsors of terrorism in the country, saying that most of them have already been arrested from different parts of the country, including Kaduna, Lagos and Port Harcourt, and they will be publicly prosecuted soon.

“I’m sure there’s a good reason for it. It’s not about naming and shaming, most of them are in custody, they are going to be tried. And you need to be very careful how much you reveal before putting them on trial. Virtually all of them are in custody I can assure you that. Because the operation included my state so I was being briefed as it was going on. We know the names, we know everything.

“But what benefit is it? What change is there when they’re already in custody. They will be on trial soon and their trial is likely to be public. So you will know them, but they’re everywhere, including in Lagos and Port Harcourt, all over Nigeria. But I’m sure there is a good reason why Minister Lai Mohammed did not mention their names and the reasons have to do with the fact that they are going to tried”, he said.

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Northwest insecurity worse than Boko Haram insurgency, El-Rufai warns

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