The Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, has stated that the only way to eradicate banditry in the country is for the military to bomb the forests where they hide and destroy them completely.
The governor said that his other colleagues were in agreement that bandits must be fully eradicated at a dialogue titled “Financing Safe Schools: Creating Safe Learning Communities” in Abuja yesterday.
“Our position as governors and we are unanimous in this because we, the governors of the northern states, met with the president on this subject…our unanimous position is to annihilate the bandits.” We must go into these woods, where no one is innocent, and simply destroy all. That’s the only way to put a stop to it.
“We’ll need a mix of air power and ground forces, as well as local skills and experience. We just need a one-, two-, or three-month operation to try to eliminate all of the bandits. That’s the only way to put an end to it. It will continue to be a company as long as these bandits are paying. As a result, our only choice is to ensure that we destroy them all.”
The Kaduna governor claimed there has been a decline in the operation of bandits across the northern part of the country. He said the reduction in banditry is due to the efforts of the Nigerian air force.
“I’m very happy that the chief of air staff has been bombing them. So, you’ll see there’s a decline in banditry. What you see is the coordinated action with air power, use of drones.”
He advised that more advanced weapons must be acquired to make their operations more efficient.
“I think the security agencies also need more advanced technology. The Air force needs more drones. Drones are much cheaper than planes and there are drones now that can carry missiles. Because they (bandits) know when they hear the sound of the aircraft and hide in the bushes. But drones can be more targeted, more selective and quiet. And drones can also fly in circumstances that airplanes cannot due to bad weather.”
He added that banditry can also be stopped if people stopped negotiating with and paying them ransoms.
“People ask if my child was kidnapped and I say that I won’t pay, it is a personal decision, which we do not all support. So, the only way to stop banditry is to kill them all.”
In 2016, El-Rufai acknowledged that his government tracked down some militant, aggrieved Fulani and paid them to stop killing Southern Kaduna residents and destroying their communities.
“For southern Kaduna, we didn’t understand what was going on and we decided to set up a committee under Gen. Martin Luther Agwai (retd) to find out what was going on there. What was established was that the root of the problem has a history starting from the 2011 post-election violence. Fulani herdsmen from across Africa bring their cattle down towards Middle Belt and Southern Nigeria. The moment the rains start around March, April, they start moving them up to go back to their various communities and countries.
“Unfortunately, it was when they were moving up with their cattle across Southern Kaduna that the elections of 2011 took place and the crisis trapped some of them. Some of them were from Niger, Cameroon, Chad, Mali and Senegal. Fulani are in 14 African countries and they traverse this country with the cattle.So, many of these people were killed, cattle lost and they organised themselves and came back to revenge.
“So, a lot of what was happening in Southern Kaduna was actually from outside Nigeria. We got a hint that the late Governor Patrick Yakowa got this information and he sent someone to go round some of these Fulani communities, but of course after he died, the whole thing stopped. That is what we inherited. But the Agwai committee established that.
“We took certain steps. We got a group of people that were going round trying to trace some of these people in Cameroon, Niger Republic and so on to tell them that there is a new governor who is Fulani like them and has no problem paying compensations for lives lost and he is begging them to stop killing.
“In most of the communities, once that appeal was made to them, they said they have forgiven. There are one or two that asked for monetary compensation. They said they have forgiven the death of human beings but want compensation for cattle. We said no problem, and we paid some. As recently as two weeks ago, the team went to Niger Republic to attend one Fulani gathering that they hold every year with a message from me.”