el-Rufai: We Didn’t Ban Islamic Movement in Nigeria, We Only Declared It Unlawful

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Kaduna State Governor Nasir el-Rufai spoke with journalists recently on some political and security issues in the state. John Shiklam, who was at the session, brings the excerpts:

On Islamic Movement in Nigeria

The issue of Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) and their declaration as an unlawful society is something that we did with all sense of responsibility. Many media outlets have presented what we did in various ways which are misleading. What we did was not to ban any organisation, we have no power to ban an organisation if it exists, we cannot ban religion or religious practice. What we did is to say that the Islamic Movement in Nigeria is an unlawful society and we derived the powers to do this under the Penal Code that was passed in 1963, so it is not a new thing that we did, so the governor can declare any organisation an unlawful society, if it poses a threat to the security, peace and governance of the state and we concluded, after receiving the report of the judicial commission of inquiry that looked into the clashes between the IMN and the army, that the IMN poses a threat to the peace, security and good governance of Kaduna State.

That was what we did. We did not ban Shiism, we did not ban Shiites. We did not say they cannot practice their religion, because in Kaduna State, there are at least two Shiites organisations that we know. There is Alkafaalin Foundation, there is Rasulaazam Society. These are all Shiites organisations and they are not outlawed. They are not outlawed because all they do is to preach their brand of Islam and practice their brand of Islam and they are free to do so.

Both of them are registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), they recognise the constitutional order in Nigeria, they recognised President Muhammadu Buhari as president of Nigeria. They recognised Nasiru el-Rufai as governor of Kaduna State and they obey the laws of Nigeria and Kaduna State. They have no paramilitary arm, they do not carry arms, they do not block public highways, they do not occupy schools.

This was why we banned the IMN. The IMN does not recognise the constitution of Nigeria, they do not recognise Buhari as President of Nigeria, they do not recognise me as governor of Kaduna State because they had their governor in Tudun Wada. I think he was killed during the clash. They have their para military wing, they call them ‘Horras’. They train them in violation of our laws. They do not accept that any law in Nigeria applies to them. They block public high ways, they occupy schools when they are doing their processions and they feel that to practice their religion, they have to infringe on the rights of others. That is completely wrong!
There is also a misconception that IMN is the same as Shiites, IMN is only one out of many Shiites organisations. There is a prominent Shiites organisation with its headquarters here in Kaduna that is headed by Sheikh Hamza Lawal.

Because IMN doesn’t recognise Nigerian laws, they are not registered with CAC, so they cannot be sued or held responsible. They build anywhere they want without approval. They don’t even bother to acquire title to land. Their allegiance is not to Nigerian government, their allegiance is to somewhere else, I want to ask you, if you put all these facts together, what does IMN look like? IMN looks like an insurgency waiting to happen.

The report of the commission of inquiry recommended that we should proscribe IMN because they are not registered, they can’t sue or be sued in their own name. The media should stop referring to the IMN as Shiites because they are just one group out of many others. I will like you to speak with other groups to hear what they think of IMN. The IMN is a political organisation. The objective of El-Zakzaky is to gather enough followers to effect an Iranian type Islamic Revolution in Nigeria and you know what that can cause! Nigeria is not 100 per cent a Muslim country that you can do Islamic Revolution, it is a recipe for crisis.

I laugh when some people that are not informed on this subject are sympathetic to him, talking about human rights. What he has in plan for you, you will not have any human rights. Anybody that tries to say Nigeria will be an Islamic country, do you know how much crisis he is trying to create? That is the agenda. So let us understand this problem.

We remained opened to talk to their members like any citizen, not as IMN because they are unlawful and if you claimed to be a member of IMN, it is seven year imprisonment. That is why we are looking for Ibrahim Musa who has signed a statement as their spokesman. We are raising the reward for exposing him to N500, 000. Anyone that knows where he is should tell us so that the police collects him, we are going to try him for signing a statement that he is a spokesman for IMN after the publication of an order banning the organisation. We will arrest and prosecute him.

On the crisis in Southern Kaduna.
When we came to office, the two problems we faced in the area of security were cattle rustling in Birnin Gwari Giwa axis and this communal killing in Southern Kaduna. We were very concerned about both and we did two things. We needed to understand what was happening in Southern Kaduna.

We understood cattle rustling and we convened a meeting of all the North-west governors because the problem was centred around the forest fringes of Kuyambana and felt state cooperation was necessary. We came together and launched an operation to deal with cattle rustling. We were successful because we degraded their ability to do cattle rustling, even though that created a problem of kidnapping, because they moved from cattle rustling to kidnapping we are still facing.

For Southern Kaduna, we didn’t understand 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. What was established was that the root of the problem had a history starting from the 2011 post election violence.

Fulani herdsmen from across Africa bring their cattle down towards iddle and southern Nigeria. The moment the rains starts around March, April, they start moving them up to go back to their various communities and countries. Unfortunately, it was when they were moving up with their cattle across southern Kaduna that the elections of 2011 took place and the crisis trapped some of them. Some of them were from Niger, Cameroon, Chad, Mali and Senegal. Fulanis are in 14 African countries and they traverse this country with the cattle. So many of these people were killed, cattle lost and they organised themselves and came back to revenge. That is their culture, if you kill a fulani man, they send the information from generation to generation until the account is settled.

So a lot of what was happening in Southern Kaduna was actually from outside Nigeria. We got a hint that the late governor Patrick Yakowa, got this information and he sent someone to go round some of these Fulani communities, but of course after he died, the whole thing stopped. That is what we inherited. But the Agwai committee established that.

We took certain steps. We got a group of people that were going round trying to trace some of these people, 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 loss or stock and he is begging you to stop killing. In most of the communities, once that appeal was made to them, they said they had forgiven. There are one or two that asked for monetary compensation. They said they had forgiven the death of human beings, but cattle. We said no problem, some we paid. As recently as two weeks ago, the team went to Niger Republic to attend one Fulani gathering that they do every year with a message from me.

So this was the problem, we knew this by August last year and we started taking steps. But what is happening now, I don’t want it to be restricted to Southern Kaduna. I noticed that some people are trying to bring religion or ethnicity into it. What about Zamfara State? Are there Southern Kaduna people in Zamfara or Christians? That is why I considered the statement by the President of Christian Association of Nigeria ( CAN ) most irresponsible. Some people don’t understand the burden of leadership. The same Fulani are killing Fulani in Zamfara, it is not about religion or ethnicity, this is a pure case of banditry. They are criminals, their ethnicity, their religion does not matter. Let’s fight the problem, let’s not bring sentiments, sensationalism and division into it. What is happening in Southern Kaduna today in my opinion, has roots in banditry, it has nothing to do with what has happened in the past to a large extent.

It was a small problem that started in Ninte village, Godogodo that could have been handled better by the local communities; by the leaders of the fulanis and the leaders of the communities did not do it well. I was very sad, I went there. Any life lost in Kaduna State is a burden on me because as the governor, I have to defend the life of everyone. As a government, we regret the loss of lives. We regret the destruction of property…

Today in Kaduna State we have arrested 400 people for kidnapping and cattle rustling and armed robbery. All except about 5 of them are Fulanis. I am Fulani, does it mean I should not have them arrested and prosecuted? I don’t consider them Fulani, I considered them criminals. Whenever I sit with Fulani leaders I tell them that we arrested over 400 suspects and 99 per cent of them are Fulanis and they should ask themselves why is it only Fulanis that are doing this. Is that part of the culture of the Fulanis, since when did they start carrying AK47 rifles and so on…
From a small problem in Ninte, some people found a way to add fuel to the fire, because it is politically expedient to do so not caring how many people get killed. Over time, the culture of impunity has permeated also segments of society, people think they can do anything and get away with it. There is very weak law enforcement or uneven law enforcement. If you are from this ethnic group or religion, you can do something and get away with it but the other one cannot. There is a mind-set that you can take the law into your hands. This is what has been happening and escalating the problem.

So it is most unfortunate, but honestly the whole challenge is that of banditry and it has to be addressed.
Secondly I think that those that preach the message that, this one is a settler, he shouldn’t he here or this one is of different tribe and religion, he should not live with you, are more responsible for what is happening than anything else. How can you look at somebody that has stayed in a place for 200 years and say he is a settler. How long have you lived there? We all came from somewhere.

The media should not give these kind of people the oxygen that they need to propagate this. Those that think that there is any profit to be made from this kind of narrative and division should go to Plateau State and ask. Jos is quiet, peaceful, because after years of killing each other both sides realised that it doesn’t make any sense. That is why when we went to Samaru Kataf for the unveiling of the apology, we invited the Gbong Gwom Jos, His Majesty Da Buba Gyang, because he has been through it, he has seen it.

We must have peace for any progress and there is no problem in the world that you can solve through violence. Even if you go to war, the war doesn’t end until you come to a table and discuss peace. Why not start with the peace….
For some of the politicians from Southern Kaduna that are trying to politicised this, they should go to Plateau State and find out or talk to former governor Jonah Jang and find out what happens when you add fuel to the fire of this kind of division. We are deploying more and more security to the crisis prone areas. It is costing us tones of money at a time when we don’t have resources, but we have to do it because security is the foundation of everything.
There are people that are sending a message, defend yourselves, we will get them, defend yourself is hate speech. You can’t defend yourself if there is a government. We are going to arrest and prosecute all those that pass that message.

The Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) has done a lot and they have been very successful in helping bring peace to Plateau State, this is why we asked them to come and help us in Kaduna. We have made a lot of progress with the Kafanchan declaration, but there are people bent on frustrating that and we know them and they are being monitored by the security agencies and at the appropriate time, we will have them in handcuffs and brought to Kaduna for trial.

On the implementation of the 2016 budget.
Our budget implementation has been satisfactory, I will not say it is very impressive by our standard, but compare to what has been done before, I think this administration has done very well. As at October 2016, we had about 50 per cent budget implementation with the following breakdown: 85 per cent of personnel cost has been drawn, 77 per cent of overhead cost has been drawn and 32 per cent of capital expenditure has been drawn. So overall, in percentages, it amounst to about 50 per cent implementation.

In specific terms, as at October this year, we have spent about N29 billion on capital projects compared to N27. 5 billion in 2013 for the entire year, N17 billion in 2014 for the entire year and N27.6 billion in 2015 for entire. So we have already spent more in the first ten months of this year than the previous three years, two and a half of which were under the PDP government.

The bulk of this spending was on emergency education intervention, water supply, road construction and health care. We are spending money in areas that we think add value to the society and create jobs. We have seen a drastic reduction in recurrent expenditure, even though we have employed more than 5000 people in the public service since we came in….
As at October this year, our recurrent expenditure clocked N43.4 billion. In 2013, the PDP government spent N56 billion on recurrent expenditure, so we are much lower.
They spent N66.7 in 2014 and N64 billion in 2015. But so far we have spent only N43.4 billion with only two months of the year to go.

Of course you cannot spend money without income, you recall that for the first time in the history of the state, we hit monthly internally generated revenue of N1.6 billion in July this year and this has remained more or less around this level up till today. We are moving away from reliance on federation account more on self sustenance based on what we have. By the end of the year, we hope to achieve 50 per cent capital budget implementation and 65 per cent overall total budget implementation.