Palace Watch

We will support El-Rufai’s call for Mercenaries if FG don’t act

  • Alhaji Zuberu Idris Abdulrauf–Danmasani Birnin-Gwari.

By Gabriel Omonhinmin

The call by Kaduna State, Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai to engage mercenaries in the fight against terrorists has become necessary because of the constant attack on Birnin-Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State, in North West Nigeria, one of the most terrorized areas in the country.

The Local Government Area headquarter in Birnin-Gwari town has been under attack several times, to the extent that no functional financial institution or outlet is in the local government.

Birnin-Gwari has an area of 6,185 kilometres and a population of 252,363 according to the 2006 Census. It is an agrarian society, which used to be one of the country’s food baskets before the peace of the area was destroyed by bandits and terrorists.

A week before March 28, 2022, when the Abuja-Kaduna train attacked in Kateri-Rijana area of Kaduna state, about 200 people were killed in Chikun area of Birnin-Gwari in the Kaduna state by terrorists, The Trumpet gathered.

The Abuja-Kaduna train attack that followed a week later caused the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) to briefly halt train operations along the route. Hundreds of passengers, who were on their way to Kaduna were either kidnapped or killed in Kateri Dutse, outskirt of Kaduna state, where the train was attacked. Several others were injured by the bandits/terrorists, who allegedly bombed the Abuja-Kaduna bound train.

Approximately 970 passengers, were on board the train, out of which several other passengers were alleged to have been abducted by the marauding bandits.

An apparently frustrated and worried Governor of Kaduna State, El-Rufai, shortly after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari over the incident in the Aso Rock Villa in Abuja, told newsmen, “if the Federal Government fails to address the insecurity in the country, especially in Kaduna State Government will be left with no other option, but to bring in foreign mercenaries to end terrorism, in the northern part of the county.

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He added, “With the deteriorating security situation, I will be left with no other choice but to take action to protect the lives and property of my people.”

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) wasted no time, in rejecting El-Rufai’s plan to bring in foreign mercenaries to help tackle insecurity in the State.

In a statement, the Chairman, Kaduna chapter of CAN, Reverend John Joseph Hayab, appealed to Buhari, to call the State Governor to order to avoid a bigger security problem.

Surprisingly, Alhaji Zuberu Idris Abdulrauf–Danmasani Birnin-Gwari, Kaduna State, one of the Chiefs in Mai-Gwari’s Palace called Palace Watch not only to express his concern over the unabating terrorist attacks in the area but to express his firm support for Governor El-Rufai’s proposal on the deployment of mercenaries in Kaduna state.

According to him, “except the Federal Government of Nigeria wakes up, and takes decisive step to halt the menacing cases of banditry, kidnapping and terrorism in Kaduna state, the entire areas he described as conjugal states might just be left with no option than to hire mercenaries to flush out these bandits and terrorists in our forest”.

Abdulrauf stated that these conjugal States are made up of Kaduna, Zamfara, Kastina, Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger and the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja. These States, according to him, might support the Kaduna State Governor’s proposal on his quest to hire mercenaries to tackle the insecurity problems in these areas.

Abdulrauf, who is presently planning to contest the Birnin-Gwari/Chikun Federal Constituency in the forthcoming elections, had a one on one interview with the Trumpet Newspapers Palace Watch over this development.

Palace Watch: Since the inception of Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s administration, there has never been love lost between the people of Birnin-Gwari and the Kaduna State Government. Why the sudden change and why are your people now supporting the Governor’s quest to bring in foreign mercenaries to defend the people of Kaduna State?

Abdulrauf:  We were not and will never quarrel with His Excellency, Governor El-Rufai. At the time we disagree with his government, we were only worried, that he deliberately refused to act, or take decisive steps to help solve the problem of insecurity which was on the rise then, and has now rendered the economy of our entire arrears useless. As we speak, there is no longer economic life in the entire Birnin-Gwari area of Kaduna state.

For years now, we have suffered all manner of inhuman treatments at the hands of criminals, who are behind these banditries, cattle rustling, kidnapping and now terrorism. Up to the extent that the economy of Birnin-Gwari, Chikun and all the surrounding areas, now lies prostrate. All efforts by my Emir and our people to get the Kaduna state and the federal government to act, or take decisive measures against these terrorists failed then. The state government and the government at the centre in Abuja did not deal with the situation then, with the commensurate force that was required, that was why all the criminal activities in these areas, now festered with time to become full-blown terrorism.

Now that the state Governor has now realized that we were not just making noise, that the problem of these bandits/terrorists, is a big issue, we have no other option than to support our Governor.

Governor El-Rufai has since visited our area to tender an apology to us, for his government’s inaction in the past. What else do we need from him? We just have to support him, especially now, that he is ready to do the needful to save the lives and properties of our people.

About a week before the attack on the Abuja Kaduna train, well over 200 indigenes of the Birnin-Gwari area were recklessly slaughtered by these same terrorists.

If you can still recollect, sometimes in 2018, when the problem of banditry was on the increase in our areas, you spoke with our Emir, His Royal Highness, Zubair Jibril Mai-Gwari II. The Emir in that same interview told you the true situation of the criminal activities of these bandits, instead of being commended for painting the true pictures of what was going on in our communities, the Emir was issued a query by the Kaduna State Government for speaking out. Since then, the Emir has kept quiet. Sadly, the ugly situation has further deteriorated to an unbearable point. If our Emir refuses to speak out not because he is afraid, he just wants to maintain peace in his kingdom, we the Chiefs will not be forced to keep quiet, we will continue to speak out. We will continue to support any move by our Governor that will help liberate us from the hands of these wicked criminals.

Palace Watch: How serious is this problem of banditry, Kidnapping and Terrorism now in Kaduna as a whole especially as it affects Birnin-Gwari. And where are these forests located, that Governor El-Rufai, wants the Nigerian Military to bombard?

Abdulrauf: It is a very serious problem. As we speak, it is now about time that our people begin to clear their farmlands, so that they will begin to plant food crops. You know what? They hardly have access to their farmland anymore as bandits and terrorists are all in control of those areas where they farm. For example, if they are going to commence the initial activities that lead to planting, these bandits or terrorists made sure they collect some fees from them. This is the only way they gain passage to their farmland. As if this is not enough pain on my people, when they now begin to clear their farmland, they are again made to pay a certain percentage of fees. When they are planting they again pay to gain access to their already cleared farmlands. After planting, when they are going to weed their farmlands they pay again to these bandits and terrorists. The bandits and terrorists do not want to know if they have paid them during all these stages of farming. They must pay them afresh to gain entrance into their farms. Anytime, they go to their farms they are made to cough out something. When the crops are matured for harvesting, each time, our farmers go to their farms to harvest the crops they still pay a ransom. If a farmer harvest ten bags of crops, he or she is made to part with two bags of those crops as ransom to the bandits. This has gone on for several years now, unchallenged. Any surprise, that’s why most people can no longer feed themselves and their families?

For you to know, the seriousness of this problem, send a secret journalist among security agencies about this problem. It is not that the Federal Government is not aware of what is going on in our areas. On September 9th 2021, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, in a letter reference NSCDCNHQINT & INVST322/2021 entitled “Update On Relocation of Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) To Rijana General Area in Kaduna State.” Part of that letter reads as follows, “Sequel to a memo dated 2nd September 2021, recovered from the Ministry of Interior on the above subject matter, upon an intelligence report from the office of the Director-General, Department of State Security Service, National Headquarters in Abuja dated 20th August 2021 with reference No.S.314/31/B/2915.

It has been uncovered, plans by Senior Boko Haram Fighters, Ibrahim (FNU) alongside his foot soldiers to relocate from “Sambisa Forest in Borno State to Rijana Forest in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State”, to join their counterpart under the leadership of one Adamu Yunusa (aka Saddiqu).

In the light of the above, you are hereby directed to step up surveillance and intelligence gathering on the aforementioned areas and Environs.

This internal memo was signed by one B.O. Bassey ACG Intelligence and Investigation for the NSCDC Acting DCG Intelligence and Investigation. The Zonal Commanders of Corps, in Gombe State, Bauchi State, Kaduna State, Kano State, Taraba State and Jigawa State were all copied.

Even with this commendable move, the large forest in Birinin-Gwari, Kachia, Kagarko, Kateri, Rijana in Chikun LGA were all left porous, for these marauders to infiltrate. These are very large forests, in all these areas. We all presume that bandits/terrorists are operating from these large and expansive forests. It is about time, the Nigerian military stepped up its operation and flush them out of these areas, if we are to have peace and rest of mind as a people.

For example, the back of Kaduna International Airport, where these terrorists recently invaded the Kaduna Airport, is adjoining the Kuyanbina forest in Zamfara State. This place also has a link to the Kamuku forest in Birnin-Gwari. One of the terrorist Kingpin, who is called Turjde Dogo was said to have killed another bandit leader then known as Buhari Daji. He is the one said to be responsible for all the major terrorist operations and he is daily collecting ransom from innocent people going about their legitimate duties unchallenged, this is not good for our country’s development.

Now that the Kaduna State government has made it clear, that if the Federal Government fails to do anything decisive to stop these people, the Kaduna State Government will find a way of defending its citizens, we are very happy and will do, all within our powers to support this move of our Governor.

As you are very much aware, section 2 of the Nigerian Constitution, says, “The primary duties of any government, is to protect the lives and properties of its citizenry.” This is exactly, what the Kaduna State Government is now trying to do, and we are going to encourage him to push further if help is not coming from the Federal Government. I must confess, it is not that the Federal Government has not been doing its very best to stop the spate of insecurity in the country, but with the recent Abuja Kaduna train bombing, it has become very clear, that the Federal Government needs the assistance of States and Local Government Areas to fight insecurity in the country. If it requires the physical involvement of the citizens in this fight, we will get involved to stop this daily misery.  If this is what we are going to do, to put a stop to these dangerous and frightening developments in our areas so be it. Now with the high level of banditry and terrorism, the entire country is put on edge.

The rate at which terrorist activities are decimating innocent lives across the country is no longer a joke. Politics aside, people are gradually losing confidence in the ability of the present APC government to run the country effectively. But Buhari has been doing, his very best, it seems as if his best is no longer enough. The whole security architecture in Nigeria needs to be re-jigged for it to become more effective.

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