Banditry: Kaduna’s frightening casualty figures

IN a recent report tagged The Security Situation in Kaduna State:1st January 2020 to 31st December 2020, the Kaduna State Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Mr. Samuel Aruwan, said that bandits killed 937 persons and kidnapped 1,972 others in the year 2020. The report was presented to the state governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, at the Government House Chamber. Mr. Aruwan said inter alia: “Victims of criminal acts like banditry and kidnapping are to be found across ethnic, religious or political leanings and persuasions, contrary to the skewed narratives.” According to him, out of the total number of deaths linked to banditry and other forms of violence in the state during the year under reference, “Igabi has the highest figure of 152 deaths, followed by Kajuru with a figure of 144 deaths.”

Aruwan added that Birnin Gwari, Igabi, Giwa and Chikun local government areas in Kaduna Central senatorial district accounted for 468 deaths, representing over 50 per cent of the entire fatalities in the state. “The southern senatorial district accounted for 286 deaths, which is about one third of the total, due in large part to sporadic clashes, alongside banditry, which triggered attacks and counter-attacks, especially between June and November 2020,” he stated. Receiving the report, Governor el-Rufai said the state government had been using its limited tools as a subnational government to address the security challenges facing the state. Reiterating his administration’s “resolve to continue to protect our people and stop the criminals,” el-Rufai said his administration had been supporting the federal security agencies deployed in the state with vehicles and other logistics since 2015. In addition, he said, the state government had invested in technology to help secure the state, as “a CCTV network is being deployed in Kaduna metropolis, while options for consistent operations of its drones are being explored.”

To all intents and purposes, the damning figures raise serious questions. It certainly beggars belief that the commissioner attempted to rationalise the stupendous figures, saying that victims of banditry and kidnapping cut across ethnic, religious and political divides, as if that makes the situation less objectionable. The Nigerian constitution makes it clear that the essence of the government is the welfare and security of the citizenry. If as many as 937 people died in Kaduna State within a year through banditry, that is an emergency that should ordinarily force the governor of the state back to the drawing board. The death toll is simply overwhelming and there is a desperate need to put the situation in check.

We are disturbed that under Governor el-Rufai’s watch, 937 people were killed and 1972 persons kidnapped in 2020. No state should tolerate this kind of tragedy. There have been full-blown wars with fewer casualties. To say the very least, this is an unacceptable situation and Governor Nasir el-Rufai must go back to the drawing board. The essence of governance being the assurance of life, it is sufficiently clear that whatever the governor is doing currently cannot be correct.

All the governors with similar records should either roll up their sleeves and get to work. If, as Governor el-Rufai explained, Kaduna State had been collaborating with neighbouring states to tackle insecurity, but this “was not sustained or expanded into a campaign of continuous, simultaneous operations against bandits across our vast region,” then it is time such lacuna was addressed. We also endorse his call for the decentralisation of policing. It is true that “there simply are not enough police officers in Nigeria and the idea of policing such a vast, federal republic in a unitary manner is not pragmatic.”  In the meantime, a little bit of self-appraisal and reflection would no doubt show the ideal things required of him in his exalted office.

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