Kaduna Security, El-Rufai and the Way Forward

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A recent security report provides new data-specific insight into Kaduna State’s security challenges and locates the epicentre at Kaduna Central Senatorial District. Louis Achi examines the new context

In the face of the failure of structurally centralised national security architecture in a presumptive federation, genuine actions by stakeholders especially, sub-national leaders to restore safety, sanity and canvass constitutional change to redress damning lapses shouldn’t be glossed over.

Insurgency, banditry, kidnap for ransom and other security challenges have caused significant setbacks for sustainable development in Kaduna State. This scenario naturally puts the role of the state government in managing the crisis on the spot. Successive reports allocate the lion share of security depredations to Southern Kaduna.

The state government has often been accused of choreographing religious or ethnic unrest against people of the state especially, the people of Southern Kaduna. This narrative flows from the perception that Southern Kaduna is the most-unsafe region of the state.
But a recent report on insecurity in the state – between January and December 2020 – that leaned on specific data appears to falsify and upturn the narrative that Southern Kaduna is the state’s crisis epicentre.

Titled, “The Security Situation in Kaduna State for the Period 1st January to 31st December 2020,” the report flowed from a study carried out by the Kaduna State Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs. It sketched the trend of insecurity in the state with some surprising disclosures.

The study revealed – and this will surprise many – that insecurity has been felt more in Kaduna Central Senatorial District. It found that the total number of people killed in the state was 937, within the study period, while 1,972 suffered kidnap and a total of 7195 animals were rustled.
Of this figure, Kaduna North recorded 34 killings, 94 kidnaps and 413 animal rustlings while Kaduna Central recorded 67 killings, 1,561 kidnaps and 5,614 animal rustlings. Conversely, Kaduna North recorded 286 killings, 317 kidnaps and 1,168 animal rustlings during the same period.

These statistics indicates that criminal activities in Kaduna State are more prevalent in Kaduna Central and thus challenges the subsisting perception that Kaduna South is the crisis epicentre.
According to the report, Giwa, Igabi, Chikun and Birnin Gwari – all in Kaduna Central – come across as the most unsafe local government areas. For instance, while Igabi recorded 152 killings with 411 kidnaps and 1,536 animal rustlings in 2020, Birnin Gwari recorded 122 killings with 519 kidnaps and 1,106 animal rustlings.

Giwa recorded 74 killings, 211 kidnaps and 2,109 animal rustlings while Chikun had 120 killings, 320 kidnaps and 804 animal thefts.
Kajuru LGA, also in Kaduna Central had 144 killings listed against it with 98 kidnaps and 57 animal rustlings. Kaduna North and Kaduna South LGAs recorded zero animal rustlings, one kidnap case each and three and two killing apiece.

As it were, the only LGAs in Kaduna South Senatorial District that recoded high figures all through 2020 were Zango Kataf, which recorded 114 killings, five kidnaps and 11 animal rustlings; and Kachia, which had 924 animal rustling cases with 57 killings and 254 kidnap cases.
The remaining LGAs in the zone had figures lower than 30 for killings, animal rustlings and kidnaps except Jaba, Jema’a and Kauru that recorded 45, 60 and 88 animal rustling cases during the period.

In Kaduna North Senatorial District, except for Kudan and Zaria, which recorded 150 ad 240 rustling cases as well as 32 kidnap incidents in Zaria, the remaining local government areas in the zone recorded crime cases lower than 15 on each score.
The report being referenced is the first of such effort in any of the nation’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. It goes beyond the blame game and offers insight into what states ought to do in order to contextualise security challenges facing them and helping to destroy perceptions that tend to draw wrong and deleterious conclusions.

It is on record that Governor Nasir El-Rufai, has successively canvassed state police and devolution of power between the federal government and states of the country. At different fora, he has stated, with good reasons that having a state police was critical to the immediate needs of the country to pull back from the brink.
His words: “One centralised police for the country just has not worked… we must rectify the anomaly of a federation that has a more or less unitary judiciary… Give us state police now.”

Succinctly capturing the governance quandary that governors experience, and which hobbles their security efforts, he revealed that, “There are certain things governors cannot do. Some of them we have alluded to by saying we don’t control security agencies. So, you are chief security officer, but you can call the CP (commissioner of police) and if the IG (Inspector General) says, ‘Don’t talk to him’, that is it.
“In five and a half years, as governor of Kaduna State, I have had eight commissioners of police. They are just posted; they spend seven or eight months (each) on average. Do the mathematics. Eight CPs that have virtually no say in their posting, and so on. How can you have security management if you change the frontline chief of security every eight months on average?”

The situation in Kaduna, as in many other states of the country, calls for a more effective policing of the states. According to El Rufai, “there simply are not enough police officers in Nigeria and the idea of policing such a vast, federal republic of nearly a million square kilometres in a unitary manner is not pragmatic and has clearly proven inadequate.

For good measure, he also reminded critical stakeholders that “the security of our communities depend on the robust projection of state power, and that can only be done with sufficient security numbers to overrun criminals. The prerogatives of the state need to be asserted, not merely proclaimed. The people we put in uniform must never be placed in avoidable danger, outgunned or outnumbered by non-state actors.”
Significantly, Governor El-Rufai’s total break with his peer governor in the North over how bandits and criminals and bandits should be dealt with marks him out as a serious leader, who has the boldness to proclaim his convictions. His open disagreement with the revered Sunni Islamic Cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, who is advocating amnesty for bandits, pushes a model of leadership that will play an important role in transforming the country.

It could be readily recalled that recently, perhaps, buoyed by a weakened sovereignty, Gumi is advocating amnesty for the bloodthirsty horde involved in the thriving, risk-free, inhuman banditry.
Sheikh Gumi, in several interviews, had called on the federal government to grant the bandits blanket amnesty, insisting that the bandits were victims of injustices brought about by the Nigerian state.
At periods of national and sub-national crises, clear, bold leadership is crucial. According to El Rufai, “Our position in Kaduna State has been clear, unequivocal and consistent. Bandits, cattle rustlers and armed militias must be degraded and decimated to a state of unconditional submission to constituted authority. We will neither negotiate with criminals of any description nor support any grant of amnesty.

“Criminal gangs, bandits, insurgents and ethno-religious militias made a conscious choice to challenge Nigeria’s sovereignty and menace our citizens. These criminals must be wiped out immediately and without hesitation.
“Banditry here has severely impacted the rural economy and shaken the confidence of citizens. It has driven farmers from their land, putting food security at risk, displaced communities, stolen property and deprived people of their right to life. We must put a stop to these criminal acts and enable our people to live their lives in peace and safety.”
Bloody banditry and kidnapping, which are species of terrorism, play on fear and terror. As Governor El Rufai has stated, the nation simply has to be determined. If Nigeria pulls back by a thumb, she would hand them victory. The nation must not yield to blackmail – whether in Kaduna State or other parts of the country.