Lack of cooperation by Northwest governors is the primary reason for the festering banditry and kidnapping in the zone, Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai has said.
As reported by The Nation, El-Rufai, one of the seven Northwest states, said a united front was needed to enable security agencies to smoke out bandits from their hideouts.
The other states in the region are Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara.
El-Rufai also said renowned Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, was wasting his time negotiating with the bandits.
The governor, in an interview with the Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) yesterday, said while some of the governors prefer dialogue with the bandits ýas a solution, others and himself do not see that as the way out.
He said Niger State Governor Abubakar Bello, whose state is in the Northcentral, as totally being in support of a “coordinated war” against the bandits and kidnappers.
He said: ”We the governors lack unity among ourselves in this region in working as one to neutralise the bandits. We in Kaduna and Niger State are talking on how to end the problem. The governor of Niger State calls me and we are discussing.
“I want a situation where security outfits will launch a coordinated war against them by going into the forests to bomb their hideouts once and for all. If not, anything short of that will not end the current security situation.”
On the peace deal initiated by Gumi, El-Rufai described it as a waste of time. He said the Islamic cleric who had met with bandits in their camps in Kaduna and Zamfara states, was deceiving himself.
He accused Gumi whom he described as his friend of not doing what they discussed about herdsmen. But he did not reveal what their discussions entail.
El-Rufai said he did not believe that a herdsman who hitherto was making N100,000 yearly from cow sale would turn a new leaf after testing millions of naira paid to him as a ransom for kidnapping a single person.
He declared that he did not believe in negotiation with bandits that ”do not believe in the Islamic religion.”
The governor said: ”I never believed that a Fulani herdsman who ventured into banditry and is collecting millions of naira as ransom will repent. This is Fulani herdsman that was used to only getting N100, 000 in a year after selling a cow. I spoke to Dr Gumi, who is my friend, I explained that the majority of these bandits don’t believe in the (Islam) religion. That is why they kill mercilessly.
“Sheikh Gumi is my friend. What we discussed about the herdsmen is different from what he is doing now.
“I will not subscribe to or believe anyone that tells me that approach is realistic. He (Gumi) is only deceiving himself and wasting his time, they (herdsmen) will not stop.”
The governor also argued that herdsmen that kill hundreds of people, burn down houses and properties do not deserve any compensation.
He added: “Why should they be compensated after killing people, they destroyed their houses. Who offended them?
“Therefore, I don’t believe in what he (Gumi) is doing, that they should be forgiven and compensated.
“In fact, if any bandit is arrested in Kaduna State, he will be killed because Kaduna is at war with bandits.
“They kill without mercy, they don’t believe in the (Islam) religion.’’