By John Shiklam in Kaduna
The Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, has said that the dreaded Kaduna – Abuja road, noted for frequent kidnappings and armed robbery, is the “safest road in Nigeria” as security agencies have flushed out the bandits terrorising the road.
Speaking in an interview with newsmen at a meeting of security administrators on Thursday in Kaduna, the governor declared that the Kaduna – Abuja road is the “safest in Nigeria today”.
Hundreds of people had been kidnapped along the road in the past two years, with travellers, preferring to travel by train to and from Abuja.
El-Rufai however noted that despite the safety of the road, people are not plying it, thinking that it is still unsafe.
He said the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has helicopters and planes that constantly hover the road, adding that the kidnappers that used to terrorise people on the road have all been wiped out or chased deeper into the jungle.
He said security agencies have changed their strategies from reaction to proaction by identifying the locations of the bandits and taking the war to their hideouts.
“In the last few months, there has been great reduction in cases of kidnapping. Though, it is a combination of issues, but I will like to give credit to our Commissioner of Internal Security and Home Affairs because the creation of that ministry has raised the level of proactiveness in these issues,” he said.
He said further that the security agencies have also “changed their strategies from reaction to proaction. So, they don’t wait until kidnapping takes place”.
“They identify where the bandits are and they go and attack them; so the bandits have been on the run.
“In the past, we wait until it happens and then, we start running helter-skelter,” he said.
The governor noted that the “high level of coordination and cooperation within the security agencies” helped in addressing the situation.
“You find out that, the Air Force is in the air doing ISR, the intelligence surveillance and feeding the police and others on the ground with information.
“So, the level of cooperation has been enhanced and that has helped in dealing with these problems.
“A very good example is the Kaduna-Abuja road. The Kaduna-Abuja road has not witnessed a single incident of criminality or kidnapping in the last two and a half months.
“But many people still think it is not safe, they are not plying it and the rest.
“That road is the safest road in Nigeria today. Because of constant surveillance; the Air Force has helicopters and planes constantly hovering the road and they are feeding information, and the kidnappers that used to stay around the road have all been wiped out or chased deeper into the jungle.
“So, the combination of these three things is what significantly reduced kidnapping, but it is not where it was at all. The level of security and safety has improved significantly,” he said.
According to him, kidnapping has been a capital offence in Kaduna State since 2016 when the penal code was re-enacted.
“Our penal code in Kaduna State prescribes death sentence for kidnapping and it has been so since then,” he added.
In his address at the occasion, Samuel Aruwan, the Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, said since the creation of the ministry five months ago, it has recorded achievements in terms of synergy with security agencies and improved responsiveness to security threats as they well as brought security platforms closer to citizens.