As countries like Canada warn their citizens about visiting Nigeria as a result of uncontrollable level of insecurity, bandits killed 937 persons in Kaduna State alone last year, according to a report submitted yesterday by the Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs. Mr Samuel Aruwan, the Commissioner in charge of the ministry disclosed that 1,972 residents were kidnapped last year.
On the other hand, Governor Nasir El-Rufai, who received the report, completely ruled out dialogue and amnesty for bandits. He said his administration would not negotiate with criminals of any description and under any guise. The report also showed that 7,195 cattle were rustled across the state within the period and that Kaduna Central Senatorial Zone topped the death toll chart with 617.
Igabi, Kajuru and Birnin Gwari – all in the senatorial district – had the highest death figures of 152, 144 and 122 respectively. Corroborating the report, the Senator representing Kaduna North senatorial zone, alerted that the bandits, who were dislodged two years ago, have been regrouping on Kubau Hills.
The submission of the report was witnessed by top traditional rulers including Emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Ahmed Nuhu Bamali; Emir or Birnin-Gwari Alhaji Zubairu Jibril Maigwari II and Agwatyap, all senators from the state, security chiefs in the state and prominent clerics including Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, who joined virtually.
El-Rufai said criminals must be wiped out immediately and without hesitation, adding that, bandits, cattle rustlers, and armed militias must be degraded and decimated to a state of unconditional submission to constituted authority. He, however, noted that failure to sustain and expand the 2015 joint security efforts by states, which according to him, would have defeated them in one place, emboldened bandits to develop a national footprint.
According to him, Kaduna State Government had invested in technology to secure the state, adding that a Close Circuit Television (CCTV) network was being deployed in Kaduna metropolis. Other options that would aid the consistent operations of drones were being explored, he said. The governor reiterated his call for the decentralisation of policing, arguing: “there are simply not enough police officers and the idea of policing such a vast Federal Republic in a unitary manner is not pragmatic.”
In his report, the commissioner said, “Victims of criminal acts like banditry and kidnapping are to be found across ethnic, religious or political leanings and persuasions.”
According to him, Birnin Gwari, Igabi, Giwa and Chikun local government areas in Kaduna Central Senatorial district account for 468 deaths out of the 937 people that died last year (representing over 50 per cent of the entire fatalities in the state).
He said: “The southern senatorial district accounts for 286 deaths, which is about one third of the total, due in large part to sporadic clashes, alongside banditry which triggered attacks and counter-attacks, especially between June and November 2020. Out of the 1,972 people kidnapped in the period under review, Kaduna Central Senatorial district accounts for 1,561 and out of the total, 1,461 were kidnapped within Birnin Gwari, Igabi, Giwa and Chikun local government areas.’’
Emir of Zazzau, Ambassador Ahmed Nuhu Bamali and Emir of Birnin-Gwari, Alhaji Zubairu Jibril Maigwari II, described activities of bandits as “terrible.” He said: “It is terrible when you see 200 to 300 bandits with weapons surrounding a village and killing people and collecting their money. Our people paid hundreds of millions as ransom.”
Emir of Zazzau said: “This is my first time of attending a meeting of this nature. The security agencies are up and doing. But we still have challenges in Zaria, and Giwa, because after 6pm some places become ‘no-go-area’. However, I commend the military and the State government for a job well done.” The traditional ruler of Zangon-Kataf, Agwatyap, Chief Dominic Yahaya, said despite occasional banditry and kidnappings in his domain, the peace committee he set up was not discouraged.
He said: “The report gives clear understanding of security challenges in the state. We saw people vacating their homes to become IDPs. We convened peace summit. An 85-member Peace and Security Partnership Committee was set up. Yet, killings continued, but the committee did not give up the search for peace.”
Senator Danjuma Laah (Kaduna South), who spoke through zoom online, said: “There is a lot of improvement on security. The security agencies should not relent. I am of the opinion that more security apparatus should be provided. We must come together irrespective of ethnic and religious difference to end this security challenges. Insecurity does not know Muslims or Christians. So we must find solutions to it.”
Senator Uba Sani (Kaduna Central) said: “I can see that my zone is most affected by this banditry. I visited some community leaders and discussed with them on finding solutions.
“I agreed with them that those bandits are criminals, and we must crush them. We need to support the security agencies as well as our governor to end insecurity.”
Senator Abdu Kwari (Kaduna North) said: “We commend all royal fathers for keeping peace in their respective domains. We have been reliably informed that these criminals have started regrouping themselves in Kubau hills after they were dispersed about two years ago. I have built a camp for security agencies in my senatorial zone so that they can use it for their operations.”