It is unfortunate that terrorists who have overran some parts of Kaduna State are currently consolidating their grips on the state by establishing a “parallel” government and “permanent operational base” in the North-Western State near Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. At the moment, it is said that Kaduna State has two governments: One, the Government of El-Rufai and second, the Government of terrorists.
Obviously perturbed by that fact, the Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai has reportedly dispatched a Memo to President Muhammadu Buhari warning him of the Armageddon that may overtake Kaduna with the increasing insecurity of lives and property in the state. In fact, the terror kingpins in Kaduna State are said to be preaching to their captive subjects not to partake in the 2023 elections. Given the fearful repercussions of disobedience to the terrorists, in the absence of a real government, this development should not be taken lightly, Government needs to demonstrate clearly and firmly that it is not about to cede any part of the country to terrorists, as the socio-cultural group, Afenifere has recently also warned.
It is noteworthy that this is not the first time terrorists operating in Kaduna State are seizing the state to make it the place of their permanent abode. Amid complete collapse of state security architecture, the terrorists have laid monumental siege not only in Kaduna State but in Niger, Borno and Nasarawa states among others; murdering, maiming, raping, intimidating, and terrorising their victims unabated.
With respect to Kaduna State, the terrorists belonging to Ansaru al-Musulmina fi Bilad al-Sudan (or Ansaru for short), are believed to have moved to Birnin Gwari in Kaduna State in 2012 when they broke away from Boko Haram. Since then, Kaduna State has known no peace. The state, since that time, has become a massive killing field. For example, between 2016 and 2017, hundreds upon hundreds of citizens of Southern Kaduna were murdered in several renewed genocidal attacks carried out by the Fulani terrorists in the state. In one genocidal attack, which occurred in December 2016, a total of 808 people were killed in 53 villages across the four local government areas in the state. In 2021 alone, about, 1,192 people lost their lives in Kaduna State owing to banditry, terrorism and violent attacks, and reprisal attacks in the state. And in the first six months of 2022, nearly 645 people have been killed in diverse circumstances across the state.
Speaking under the aegis of Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), the acting President of SOKAPU, Awemi Dio Maisamari, has recently stated that the terrorists have not only taken over Kaduna State but have been running the government’ in the state since 2019. He laments that most rural communities and villages in Kaduna State especially in Chikun, Kajuru, Kachia, Zangon Kataf, Kauru, Lere, Birnin Gwari and Giwa Local Councils have been deserted and occupied by terrorists.
Many watchers believe that the ugly reality in the state would have been averted if El-Rufai were alive to his responsibility of protecting lives and property. Even after the Sultan of Sokoto had warned that the terrorists were literally going from one house to the other in Kaduna State and collecting illegal taxes from the citizenry, El-Rufai did not evidently take him seriously. According to the Chairman, Kaduna Chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Reverend Joseph John Hayab, “we have a government that has actually been defending terrorists and bandits. That is why these people have a field day doing what they have been doing and that is why we are where we are today.”
It is a big irony that El-Rufai who should been in the vanguard of confronting terrorism in Kaduna State, to scuttle it is now belatedly waking up to the tragic reality in the state. Perhaps El-Rufia should be reminded of the immortal words of Martin Neimollerm (1892-1984) “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.”
It is unfortunate that El-Rufai and Buhari have squandered the confidence and trust reposed in them by the people of Kaduna State.
This is the time that tries men’s souls in Kaduna State as mere conspiracy theories of yester-years are turning out to be true. Shortly before his death, Dr. Obadiah Mailafia said inter alia: “The body language of this administration shows clearly that they have a hand in the killings, no doubt about it.” In an online video, which has been watched by most Nigerians, Gen. T. Y Danjuma (rtd) also said: “Every one of us must rise up, the Armed Forces are not neutral, they collude with the armed bandits that kill people, that kill Nigerians; they facilitate their movements, they cover them. If you are depending on the Armed Forces to stop the killings, you will all die one by one.”
To prove Dr. Mailafia, Danjuuma and Afenifere wrong, Buhari should by virtue of Section 14 (1) of the 1999 Constitution perform his primary constitutional duty of protecting lives and property of the citizenry in Nigeria. El-Rufai should turn a leaf and seek the Federal Government’s collaboration in waging a serious war on terrorism in Kaduna State. Charity, they say, begins at home. Even if he is not in control of the Army and the Police, El-Rufai can do more than engage in the armchair criticism that has been his hallmark over the years. He should emulate his colleagues in other states who are setting up security outfits to complement the police; and he can very well take up the gauntlet of canvassing for state police, considering the failure of the present set-up to adequately address the security challenges in the whole country.
Buhari should justify the huge money being spent on security across the country. Negotiating with terrorists, as Shehu Garba and others suggest, is indicting. Rather, the country’s security architecture should be re-invented. First, the Nigeria Police should be re-invented so that it can perform its duty diligently. State policing should be encouraged. After all, the 2014 National Conference Report approves the establishment, funding and operation of state and community police based on state laws. The Report also recommends the establishment of a National Border Patrol Force under the ministry of defence. Although it is the primary duty of Police to routinely maintain peace and order in the society, the Constitution has in unmistakable terms spelt out the circumstances and conditions under which the military can be invited to intervene to quell terrorism or combat banditry. There should be compulsory regular training and continuing education for the military involved in combating terrorism.
More importantly, the Buhari government must tackle the terrorists and financiers of terrorism in the country. The enemies to be most feared are the enemies within not the enemies outside. Like it or not, the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) has ranked Nigeria, for the sixth consecutive time since 2015, as the third country with the most impactful deadliest terrorist organisation. Therefore, the Buhari government should wake up to its responsibility and seriously stop terrorists from dominating any part of Nigeria.