The recent self-disclosure by the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el Rufai, that his administration recently doled out cash to some Fulani herdsmen who had in the past wreaked havoc on different communities in the state, is a betrayal of public trust.
Governor el Rufai had, in an interview with some journalists, disclosed that his administration had sent emissaries to some of the herdsmen in neighbouring countries, with cash gifts and – almost literally on bended knees – appealed for ceasefire in the mindless killing of residents of Southern Kaduna in the state.
In his own words, the Governor said, among other disturbing statements: “For Southern Kaduna, we didn’t undestand what was going on and we decided to set up a committee under Gen Martin Luther Agwai (rtd) to find out what was going on there…So, a lot of what was happenig in Southern Kaduna was actually from outside Nigeria….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…”
By such official indiscretion , el Rufai had admitted knowing the whereabouts of the herdsmen who had carried out a long reign of terror in many parts of the state, killing the young and the old in their sleep in a war of attrition suspected to have religious undertones, and targeted at upstaging some residents of Kaduna State from their ancestral homes.And by such confessional statement, the Governor has presented himself as a most likely suspect for the crime of accessory after the fact of murder
Murder is a grave criminal offence; mass murder, as has been the case of the herdsmen in Southern Kaduna, is even far more grave. As such, it is most disheartening that the most senior public official in the state, who was sworn in on oath, as governor, to protect the lives and property of the citizens could, by his own admission, be hobnobbing with agents of death who have made violent attacks on a particular community a major preoccupation.
Such attacks in Southern Kaduna include the following instances: Zango-Kataf killings in 1992, and killings in other communities in 2012, 2013, 2014 and in 2015, shortly after el-Rufai was sworn in as governor. Now, in 2016.
In our opinion, after gaining intelligence about the whereabouts of the murderers, Governor el Rufai ought to have passed on his classified information to the appropriate security agencies, with a view to apprehending the suspects and bringing them to justice. What the Governor achieved by his act of appeasement is to empower identified criminals who are more inclined to put the benefits of gubernatorial patronage to accustomed end of visiting hapless and helpless victims with more horrendous violence, as the country recently witnessed in Southern Kaduna,.
Yet, it is easy to infer that, perhaps, the same beneficiaries of el-Rufai policy of appeasement to terror gangs, under the guise of primordial consideration, have been responsible for the myriad of attacks on other Nierian communites over access to cattle grazing lands.
We also find it objectionable Governor el-Rufai -administration’s description of the Nigeria’s Islamic Movement (NIM), led by detained Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, as a subversive organization.
Coming at the time it was made, the statement easily suggested itself to the possibility of harbouring a post-gubernatorial hidden agenda against the embattled group and its traumatized leader.
Otherwise, discerning Nigerians may wish to know when the Governor made his ‘sterling’ discovery, especially in view of of the Governor’s cordial relationship with the leadership of the group, as has been revealed, pictorially in the media, especially while candidate el-Rufai campaigned to be governor of Kaduna State..In a published press statement by the Shiite, and signed by one Malam Ibrahim Musa, as President of the media forum, the group pointedly accused el-Rufai of ‘betrayal’:
“..we feel betrayed by a governor who rode to power on the shoulders of mass popular support of our members…”
For us at ING, such a statement by the state government is not only dangerous, but also capable of setting fire to an already combustible situation. We do not think it serves the overall interest of the security of the state to set up a group for liquidation, as el-Rufai’s posture appears to suggest, given the number of punitive measures against the group and its leader. Instead of such a combative attitude, we will rather suggest that the government of Kaduna State heal the wounds of the injured through a well-coordinated dialogue of engagement with all concerned
We are also of the view that the release of the White Paper, and its savage content at a time that a court of competent jurisdiction had declared the continued detention, without trial, of el-Zakzaky, as unconstitutional and in clear breach of his freedom of association, as entrenched in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,is uncalled for. Such action by the government of Kaduna State is a deliberate attempt to subvert the course of justice, thereby undermining the judicial process in the land. And such contemptuous attitude by the trusree of law, order and justice in a state can only be seen as encouraging anarchy.
We do not need to encourage another religious group to the path of extremism, seeking off-shore allies in self-defence and group survival when the heat is unnecessarily turned on them at home. The history of the transformation of Boko Haram into a murderous organisation is well known to merit a recollection here. We believe that, part of the white paper which read,”…for all intent and purpose, the IMN is an insurgent group and ought to be treated as such;” seems out of tune with the activities of the group before their 2015 encounter with a detachment of the Nigerian Army
Claims by el-Rufai that all IMN members and its leadership are jointly and severally liable for all violations of the law in the last 30 years, and are, therefore, responsible for the clashes and its consequences and,that the Nigerian Army abided by its Rules of Engagement, reflects a mindset that is either afraid of apportioning blame to where it belongs, or incapable of giving justice to all concerned.
No leader should justify the treatment of a section of his state the way el-Rufai has demonstrated, so far, in his responses to the tragic consequences of the military deployment of disproportionate lethal force in its encounter with members of Nigeria’s Islamic Movement in what suggested itself to a genocidal mission
What remains for us, as a group, desirous of peace under a condition of justice, is to call on stakeholders in the Nigerian project to prevail on Governor el-Rufai to engender a peaceful environment in Kaduna State. This is to be done by ensuring justice to the injured and traumatized members of the NIM and people of Southern Kaduna.