The Governor of Kaduna State, Nasiru El-Rufai, has said that governors in the 36 states are unanimous on the need to kill all bandits and other criminals taking shelter in the forests.
El-Rufai said all terrorists and bandits should be killed as the only way of ensuring security in troubled parts of the country.
He said this in Abuja Tuesday at a high-level dialogue on ‘Financing Safe Schools: Creating Safe Learning Communities’ organised by the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.
Speaking at the event, Ekiti State Governor and Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), Dr Kayode Fayemi, identified the roots of the country’s security predicament as its high unemployment rate.
El-Rufai said the governors were unanimous that the security agencies “must move into the forests” and kill all the bandits. “Kill them all,” he said.
This is not the first time the governor is advocating for the summary execution of the bandits. He has in the past criticised amnesty for the armed groups insisting that only firepower could subdue them.
A governor who spoke to Daily Trust last night expressed worry that the Kaduna governor was divulging sensitive security information to the public. He said El-Rufai’s statement did not represent the complete picture of the governors’ position.
Speaking at the event, the Kaduna governor said the bandits should be bombed as “Nobody living in the forest is innocent and we must kill them all”.
He commended the Chief of Air Staff for the air missions, which he said, has led to a reduction in the activities of bandits in recent times.
El-Rufai also reiterated that if his child was kidnapped, he would not pay any ransom.
The governor said security agencies needed more funding and technology.
“What is needed is coordinated action and we need more drones rather than aircraft. We need a combination of air power and troops on the ground,” El-Rufai said.
Umahi to herders: Stay where you are
Meanwhile, the Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi yesterday called on herdsmen planning to return to the state to stay where they are until tensions are doused.
Umahi’s reason was that the state is not yet safe for them to return owing to persistent killings in some parts of the state.
The governor said that he would implement the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari against herdsmen carrying AK-47 in the state, even as he accused members of the Miyetti Allah of having earlier knowledge of the two deadly attacks in some parts of the state.
Umahi made the remarks while briefing Journalists at the end of an enlarged state Security Council meeting in Abakaliki.
“We will confront any herdsmen coming into Ebonyi State with AK-47, I have directed that they should be confronted and my directive is very obvious because Mr President had already directed as such.
“Again, I have been begging the National leadership that with what is going on, that no state governor is in control of bandits and because of the killings of the defenceless Ebonyi people, for the safety of them, they should not return now”, he explained.
In another fresh communal clash between the people Ezillo and Iyonu Communities in Ishielu Local Government Area, Umahi confirmed that two persons have been killed.
The governor, who also accused the councillor in the area of fuelling the fresh crisis, directed for his immediate arrest, adding that the disputed area had been declared as a buffer zone earlier.
Meanwhile, Umahi noted that normalcy has returned to the area, which was made possible owing to the intervention of the Catholic Bishop of Abakaliki Diocese, Most Rev Father Michael Okoro.
Umahi said: “There have been differences for over 100 years and the land has been declared a buffer zone.
“But unfortunately out of greed, one councillor from Ezillo took an expatriate investor to the disputed land and that resulted in shootings and killing where two persons died”.
“The Bishop of Abakaliki Diocese, Most Rev Father Michael Okoro has directed the State leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to wade into the crisis.
“And the committee which is entirely made up of CAN has met with leaders of Ezillo and Iyionu Communities and they agreed to abide by all the decisions of the CAN.
He further called on leaders of the South-East zone to rise up and condemn the killings in the zone.
“We are killing policemen, we are burning police stations, which means that South-East leaders should know that our problem is not just herdsmen”, he noted.
Umahi’s pronouncement in good faith – ACF
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has said it believes Governor Umahi is acting in good faith when he urged herders to delay their return to his state due to the tense security situation.
In a phone conversation on Tuesday, the ACF National Publicity Secretary, Emmanuel Yawe said the Forum had faith in governor Umahi stressing that it was willing to give him the benefit of doubt.
“If the governor is acting on the information available to him and if the situation is really tensed then it is really not advisable for the herdsmen to return now because it may trigger up something especially at this time that everywhere is tensed up,” Yawe said.
“The governor of Ebonyi State is the man on the spot and ordinarily, he is not one of those governors who issues volatile statements so he must be acting in good faith and we will give him the benefit of doubt,” he further said.
On the governor’s shoot at sight order for anyone found carrying AK47, Yawe said even though Umahi is said to be following President Muhammadu Buhari’s orders, caution must be exercised even as only the courts have the right to take life.
According to him: “The constitution gives rights of life to the court and not the executive. Somebody can only be denied his right to existence if the courts make such pronouncements and so we should be cautious especially in a political era.
“When politics come and elections start, this can be used to eliminate a political opponent. Only a competent court of law can pass a death sentence on a Nigerian, not the president and not a governor.”
Unemployment cause of insecurity – Fayemi
Ekiti State Governor Kayode Fayemi, described insecurity in Nigeria as a consequence of unemployment, stressing the need for a coordinated response to unemployment and addressing the socio-economic effects on citizens.
“Even when we do all that is required of us, that is, stemming the tide of the problem of insecurity, brigandage, I think we need to look at the broader socio-economic response,” he said.
“It is good to be tough on crime. We must be tougher on the causes of crime. You cannot have a 33 per cent unemployment rate in any country and not expect to deal with the sociological implication of that.
“And that is an area that the Nigeria Governors’ Forum believes we must also work collaboratively with our partners, also work with our financial institutions and private sector in order to find the best mechanism to bring our youth to work.
“If we do that, we would have fundamentally played our role in addressing the causes of this untoward crisis that the country is dealing with.”
In her remarks, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, said that financing is critical to the successful implementation of any proposed interventions that come out of today’s Dialogue.
“We in government recognise that to make the critical investments necessary to sustainability secure our schools and ensure a holistic and community-centred approach to Safe Schools programmes, we must address the longstanding challenge of domestic revenue mobilisation.
“This process is already ongoing through the implementation of fiscal reforms, including Finance Acts 2019 and 2020.”
“Furthermore, we are working to develop the second phase of the Strategic Revenue Generation Initiatives (SRGI), a multiagency programme originally launched in 2019, with prioritised initiatives across three (3) Thematic Areas: (1) Achieving sustainability in revenue generation, (2) Identifying new and enhancing enforcement of existing revenue streams; and (3) Achieving cohesion in the revenue ecosystem (people and tools).
“As part of this initiative, we are also exploring how to make our revenue administration processes more efficient, recognizing resource constraints particularly post COVID-19” she explained.
She noted that “even with the aforementioned efforts, our fiscal space remains constrained with the COVID-19 response having required increased borrowing in Nigeria, as it has in other countries across the globe.
“It is therefore imperative that we work to collaboratively (across government and with the private sector and international development partners) develop funding strategies to drive the creation of safe education environments”.
From Nabob Ogbonna (Abakiliki), Chris Agabi (Abuja) & Lami Sadiq (Kaduna)