It was a sombre-looking Governor Nasir el-Rufai who, yesterday, reeled out gloomy details of the spate of insecurity that has held Kaduna State by the jugular.
Receiving reports of the security challenges facing the state compiled by the Commissioner of Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, the governor said Kaduna lost 1,192 residents to bandits attacks across the state in 2021, while 3,348 citizens were kidnapped.
The fatality figure represents an average of three residents daily in 2021. The report also shows that there is a 27.21 per cent increase in deaths, compared to 2020.
A review of media reports on 2021 killings shows that Kaduna is the second least secure state in Nigeria after Zamfara that tops the list.
Specifically, el-Rufai confirmed that an average of nine persons were kidnapped daily last year. The government’s yearly report also gave 891 as the figure of people who sustained various forms of injury during the attacks.
Besides, apart from human casualty, 13,788 cows were rustled within the 12 months covered by the report.
“The state recorded 182 cases of farm destruction either by cattle under the watch of itinerant herders or herds rustled by bandits, which destroyed farms, especially in Birnin Gwari, Giwa, Igabi, Chikun, Kajuru, Jema’a, Kaura, Kauru and Zangon Kataf local councils.
“Kaduna Central senatorial zone recorded the highest number of deaths at 720, followed by 406 in Kaduna South and 66 in Kaduna North. There were 340 children kidnapped, while 2,023 were men and 985 were women.
“Kaduna Central also led in the area of kidnapping with 2,771 abduction, while 397 citizens were kidnapped from the Southern senatorial zone and 180 from Kaduna North,” the report indicated.
Zangon Kataf LGA in the southern part of Kaduna appeared to be most troubled area in the state as 186 persons were killed, followed by Birnin Gwari LGA with 179 fatalities; Giwa LGA recorded 173 deaths and Chikun LGA had 160.
In the report, the state government highlighted the main sources of revenue for bandits as follows: Ransom for kidnapped hostages, sale of rustled cattle, profit from gun running/arms trade, leasing of weapons to other criminal groups, proceeds from joint operations (mostly kidnappings) with other criminal groups, protection levies imposed on farming communities and individuals and proceeds from commercial motorcycle operators and other businesses set up for local collaborators.
In his remarks, el-Rufai said: “Like the 2020 maiden edition, the report is a sobering reading because it is a factual account of a challenging situation. Its pages contain hard data, which reflect the pains inflicted on our people across the state by criminals and outlaws. The report also provides background and an update on the steps being taken by Kaduna State government to manage this serious challenge.
“The report shows that in 2021, an average of nine persons were kidnapped daily across Kaduna, mostly in Kaduna Central senatorial district. There is also an escalation in the number of persons killed by a whopping 255 compared to those killed by banditry and criminality in 2020, in spite of our best efforts in supporting the Federal security agencies to bring an end to this phenomenon.
“As we digest these sad statistics, we pray for the repose of the souls of those killed, pay tribute to the victims of various crimes, reiterate our solidarity with them, and reaffirm our resolve to continue to protect our people, and stop the criminals. The victims of these outlaws cut across our state, though we note the persistence of certain narratives that try to coat sheer criminality in ethno-religious or regional hues, depending on the identity of the victims.
“As a sub-national, the state government has always used the limited tools available to it to address these dire times. Since 2015, we have supported the Federal security agencies deployed in our state with vehicles and other logistics.
“Lessons learned from managing these incidents during our first term informed our decision to establish the first sub-national Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs at the beginning of our second term in 2019.”
El-Rufai expressed sadness at the escalation of violence in Zangon-Kataf, which appears to be rapidly spilling into the Chawai part of Kauru Local Council.
“We sympathise with the affected communities. This outbreak of violence is a serious challenge to the community level peace process initiated by the Agwam of Zangon Kataf and community leaders in the area. While the security agencies keep trying their best, the peacemakers on the ground should not be discouraged. Peace is worth every effort, despite the setbacks encountered.
“We continue to emphasise that as a state, we do not believe that there is any phenomenon like ‘repentant bandits’. Any person that makes a conscious decision to secure arms, challenge the authority of the Nigerian state, and threatens the lives and property of Nigerians does not deserve to live or be granted any concession by the society,” he declared.
Reacting to the report, Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kaduna chapter, Revd Joseph John Hayab, said the report is a self-indictment of the governor and confirmed that the government has wasted its security budget in combating the war against banditry. He also called for the resignation of el-Rufai.
He said: “It is sad that a government that is not at war will acknowledge that 1,192 people in her state were killed by bandits and also acknowledged that over 3,000 people were kidnapped and about 892 people were injured.
“This tells you that all the money they have been receiving for security votes have just been wasted. How can we justify the money spent on security votes and yet, we have these casualty figures.
“If we are a responsible society, someone is supposed to have resigned, and admitted that he has failed. But, because we are in a community that anything goes, shamelessly they will give you these figures and also celebrate it,” he lamented.
As a solution, however, el-Rufai called for the establishment of a theatre command similar to that of the Northeast, to tackle the security situation in the five states of the Northwest and Niger State bedeviled by banditry.
“The Kaduna State government appeals to the Federal Government to create a Theatre Command similar to the situation in the Northeast to confront the insurgency that has clearly emerged in five states of the Northwest and Niger State with continuous and contiguous forest ranges.
“The creation of such a Theatre Command will enable holistic approach to counter-insurgent operations across the six affected states and the enhanced coordination of resources of the armed forces, the police, SSS, our respective state vigilance services, hunters and other local volunteers to fight the insurgents.
“The state has implemented several measures, including telecoms shutdown as recommended by security agencies to enable kinetic operations. We commend our people for the sacrifices they made during the shutdown. I want to reiterate that some of the measures like prohibition of sale of petroleum products, operation of weekly markets in selected areas, and use of motorcycles remain in place until we see clear progress in the fight against the terrorists,” the governor said, adding that the security of their communities depends on the robust projection of state power, and that such can only be done with sufficient security personnel to overawe and deter criminals.
He reiterated that the prerogatives of the state needs to be asserted and not merely proclaimed.
His words: “The people we put in uniform must never be placed in avoidable danger, outgunned or outnumbered by non-state actors.
“It is when the terrorists are decimated that ‘soft’, non-kinetic peace building will gain traction. Part of the soft tools we have developed in Kaduna State is the Peace Commission, empowered to engage our communities and incline them towards a peaceful resolution of differences. We are also supporting the House of Kaduna Family as a vital platform for religious leaders to promote a common humanity across our diversity.”