Nigerians Attack Gov El-Rufai Over ‘Reckless’ Comments, Poor Handling Of Kidnappings In Kaduna

April 25, 2021

Nasir el-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna State, has come under criticism for his treatment of the state’s numerous abductions. This follows the killing of three students at Greenfield University, a private institution located off the now-dangerous Kaduna-Abuja Highway in the state’s Chikun Local Government Area.

According to the DAILY Post, a large number of students were abducted after bandits broke into the school and killed a security guard while abducting some of the students. Nigerians were surprised, however, when the State Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, declared on Friday that the insurgents had killed three of the students, one male and two females.

Their bodies were discovered near to the school, according to him.

After the students’ murders, tensions have risen, with criticism being heaped on the state governor, El-Rufai, for his headline-grabbing stance on the topic of negotiating with the bandits holding the students hostage.

Governor el-Rufai has remained firm in his refusal to negotiate with bandits or pay ransom for the release of their hostages in recent months, claiming that doing so will only make abduction more profitable.

To emphasize how serious he is about calling the bandits’ bluff, the governor recently said, “I mean it and I’ll say it again here.” Even if my son is abducted, I would instead pray for his salvation and I will not pay a ransom.”

The governor made the remarks while speaking about the kidnapping of 39 students from Kaduna’s Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation in March, saying that the government will continue to look for other ways to reunite them with their families.

At a recent event in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, the governor reiterated his position, saying that all bandits should be killed instead.

“Our role as governors is unanimous in this because we, the governors of the northern states, met with the President on this subject,” he said. The bandits must be eradicated, and we all agree on that. Nobody in that forest is innocent, so they should all be killed. 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 and try to eliminate all the bandits.”

Despite the governor’s apparent conviction in his latest stance, many Nigerians blame him for the deaths of three Greenfield University students and the continued detention of 29 students from the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization by their captors.

The bandits may have been enraged by el-stance Rufai’s and recent statements, so they wanted to prove how brutal they can be and that they mean business.

In an interview on Friday, one of the parents of the abducted Greenfield students revealed that the bandits turned down a N15 million bid, insisting on N800 million and threatening to kill the students if the money is not paid.

“It’s sad that the state continues to refuse to participate in the talks, even though lives are at stake,” the parent, who asked to remain anonymous, said. He also said that if the parents do not pay the ransom or use force to free the children, the bandits have threatened to kill the remaining students.

In response to the students’ murders on Friday, Ahmed Gumi, a Kaduna-based Islamic scholar, urged Governor el-Rufai to reconsider his position, saying that he couldn’t do anything to secure the students’ release without his assistance.

“The situation is becoming desperate, and I need the government’s help before I can do anything,” he said, adding that he believes there is a major misunderstanding and misreading of the situation on the ground. So, I’m completely helpless; I’m not sure what I can do right now.

“To be honest, it’s very unfortunate. I’ve been saying for a long time that there is a racial war going on. It is a war, so we will continue to suffer if we refuse to admit that it is a war.

“You can’t foresee what people like that would do; this is the terrible thing, and the average man suffers as a result. The government must listen to us because those people (bandits) are willing to listen to us. I believe there will be peace if the government cooperates and listens to us, but we are having difficulty getting the government’s attention.”

Governor el-utterances, Rufai’s according to the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG), led to the murder of the students, who demanded that he shut up!

The CNG said the students’ murder confirmed the government’s lack of willingness to protect citizens’ lives and property through its spokesperson, AbdulAzeez Suleiman.

“In addition to this clear loss, we believe Governor El-statements Rufai’s are unhelpful in this case. When people’s lives are on the line, it’s not safe for a government to brag.

“An ideal leader should be able to tell when to keep fighting and when to withdraw. El-continued Rufai’s bravado is unproductive and costly to the state.”

Parents of the remaining 29 students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanization, Afaka, Kaduna, fear for their children’s safety after spending more than a month in captivity, saying they have been living in fear since the Greenfield University students were killed on Friday.

They, on the other hand, said they are putting their faith in God to the test and are appealing to the international community to help them.

“We are looking to God for guidance. A frustrated parent asked, “What else do you want me to say?”

“We were informed of what had occurred. We are very worried about the current situation.

“We are concerned that if proper precautions are not taken, what happened to those students could happen to our children. But that is not something we are hoping for.

“It is on this basis that we are appealing to well-intentioned Nigerians, state and federal governments, and the United Nations to intervene to save the situation.

“We specifically request that the United Nations press the Nigerian government to take the necessary steps to protect our children from these bandits. We are appealing to the international community to take action rather than simply observe what is taking place in Kaduna State,” the parent said.

Some of the parents who spoke to DAILY POST earlier bemoaned the state government’s abandonment of their children, wondering when it became taboo for a governor, who once said he paid bandits money to stop killing people in the state, to negotiate for their children’s release.

“As far as I’m concerned, before now, Governor Nasir el-Rufia made a statement that he is willing to negotiate with bandits and even pay them money to ensure that there is no more kidnapping or killing in the state, but unfortunately, we are surprised to see that the same governor who made this statement has come out to say that he is not ready to negotiate,” one of the parents, Samuel Kambai, told the DAILY POST. We believe they would have been out by now if they were his children. But, since they aren’t his, he’s making comments like this.”

In addition, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) blamed Governor Nasir El-Rufai for the students’ deaths.

While reacting in Abuja on Friday, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, the group’s National Coordinator, reasoned that the students’ deaths were the result of the state governor’s lack of political will to act accordingly.

“We blame him for this unfortunate incident,” he said. By constantly making incendiary remarks and rash media pronouncements about the kidnappers, the governor exacerbated the issue of the commoners who are on the receiving end of these insurrectionists and terrorists’ activities.

“These same kidnappers that the governor has shown a lack of political will to apprehend and prosecute for their crimes against humanity, the governor has now advocated for their all-out execution. In a constitutional democracy, who kills without respecting the law’s due process? This is chaos.

“What kind of governor would incite offenders whom he has failed to apprehend? As a result, these offenders have descended on their victims and murdered them in order to put the governor’s “might” to the test, claiming that “might is correct.” This is utterly ridiculous and deplorable.”

Many Nigerians whose opinions were sought by DAILY POST agreed with HURIWA’s stance, believing that the governor has been talking too much lately instead of acting on whatever options he has for the liberation of the students and others held captive.

Others believe that every rule must be broken, and that the Kaduna State Government must recognize the trauma that the parents of these students have been through, as well as the hardships that the victims are facing in the woods, especially the risk of being wasted by bandits.

Dele Adesina, speaking with DAILY POST, believes el-Rufai sparked the hornet’s nest with his constant tough talk and threats to kill them all.

“The assassination of the students was tragic and could have been prevented if those in charge had done their jobs properly. I’m referring to Governor Nasir el-Rufai in particular. In this situation, he cannot be absolved of responsibility. You keep making provocative comments and issuing threats despite the fact that you have students and many others kept hostage by murderous criminals who have shown that they have little respect for human lives. The bandits have just shown that they are unconcerned about the risks.

“There have been other abductions in states like Zamfara, Katsina, and Niger, but none of them turned bloody, resulting in deaths, and none of them were this bad.

“There have been several other abductions in states like Zamfara, Katsina and Niger states but none became bloody, leading to deaths and they were not this protracted because the governments of those states know the danger the abductees were and the trauma of their parents. They were sensitive enough to do all that’s possible to secure the release of the students.

“I am sure no Nigerian will want to subscribe to paying ransom to bandits or common kidnappers, but here we are talking about the lives of several people being at stake. Even if el-Rufai is not interested in paying ransom, I don’t think it is a mark of good leadership to keep making statements that keep making things worse. He has blame in the saga and he must take concrete steps to douse the current tension and ensure the remaining Greenfield University students and those of the Forestry students return home safely”, Adesina said.

For Basil Okonta, the time has come for the Kaduna State Governor to pull a retreat on his position for the sake of the lives that are at stake. He also noted that from experience, there is always an exemption to every rule, insisting that the current situation calls for that exemption to the governor’s position.

“Governments all over the world will always tell you that they don’t negotiate with terrorists but the opposite is the case, especially when it comes to life and death situation like what is presently playing out in Kaduna. Nobody is saying bandits or kidnappers should be pampered but then, the safety of the victims should come first. I believe the students and all others still in captivity should be safely brought home before we can talk of killing them all. The governor must be more tactical in his approach, if not, things will get worse”, Okonta said.

Despite all the blames being heaped on Governor el-Rufai for the death of the three students and the continued stay in captivity by others, Adewale Johnson believes that the governor is being unduly vilified by those who have brought in emotions to a purely security matter.

According to him, bandits and kidnappers have proven overtime not to be reliable, as whatever agreement you may have with them will eventually be reneged on. “Nigerians must understand the issues at stake here and not unnecessarily blame the governor. This is a man who once said he paid bandits to stop killing and kidnapping his people. But have killings and kidnappings stopped? No. Even then, he said that, he was roundly condemned by those who felt he was pampering the bandits. Now, he said he will not negotiate or pay ransom and people are still calling for his head.

That’s the nature of human beings, we can never be satisfied. “We have heard of situations where ransom was paid, yet the kidnappers killed their victims. Bandits are not rational human beings, they operate by their own rules determined by them. You pay today, you will still pay tomorrow because they will keep coming. I believe government and the security agencies have to step up operations against the criminals and wipe them out just like el-Rufai has advocated. That’s the only way out”, Johnson submitted.

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