Comments and Issues
El-Ruffai: Body bags as badge of honour
We are writing about a troubling but seemingly unending issue that relates to calamitous collapse of governance in Kaduna State with the attendant mass killings of innocent citizens but most especially, the Christians who dominate a large swathes of Kaduna state’s landscapes known as Southern Kaduna. Kaduna State governor is Muslim. His deputy is Muslim. The Soeaker of the State Assembly is also Muslim.
So lets interrogate “The Purposes of Government: Why do governments exist? One major reason is that they create rules. But what rules are necessary or desirable? That is open to question, and different types of governments have certainly created a wide variety of rules.”
“GOVERNMENT, almost certainly originated with the need to protect people from conflicts and to provide law and order. Why have conflicts among people happened throughout history? Many people, both famous and ordinary, have tried to answer that question. Perhaps human nature dictates selfishness, and people inevitably will come to blows over who gets what property or privilege. Or maybe, as KARL MARX explains, it is because the very idea of “PROPERTY” makes people selfish and greedy.”
Specifically, the regerenced author affirmed also that: “Whatever the reasons, governments first evolved as people discovered that protection was easier if they stayed together in groups and if they all agreed that one (or some) in the group should have more power than others. This recognition is the basis of SOVEREIGNTY, or the right of a group (later a country) to be free of outside interference. (www.ushistory.org)”.
Another intriguing thought about why government officials must be focused on achieving the primary purpose of government, can be seen from a fascinating book I often read. The book asserted that: “If executives were asked to list their greatest frustrations I suspect that not having enough time would be very near the top of the list. The constant flow of business provides an equally constant flow of interruptions which keep people from spending their time the way they had planned to. Something always comes up, and they find themselves further behind at the end of the day than when they began.”
The solutions to these problems, he argued, are a lot simpler than people are often willing to admit. It is mostly a matter of controlling your business day rather than having it control you, of forcing activities into the time available, rather than trying to expand the time to accommodate the activities.
Then the writer said: “But many people fear that if they don’t seem out of control they aren’t going to seem busy enough or important enough. They really don’t want to manage their time well. Once you really believe that controlling your time is not only more productive, but more pleasant, then the rest is fairly easy.” (See the book ‘WHAT THEY DON’T TEACH YOU AT HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL’, BY MARK H. MCCORMACK).
The two aforementioned references on the essence of government in the affairs of man, is also replicated or indeed originated from fragments of rational writings of founding fathers of philosophy in all ages beginning from the ancient times with the likes of Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, through the medieval and modern epochs with such deep thoughts given to us by scholars such as Thomas Aquinas, Saint Augustine of Hippo, Jean Paul Satre, soren Kiekegard, Karl Marx, Immanuel Kant and even up until our own epoch with such profound thinkers like Chinua Achebe amongst other scholars.
The Central message in almost all strands of thoughts authored by these great thinkers is the centrality of the legal duty and obligation to protect lives which is a desideratum or necessary objective of a government.
Nigeria is definitely part of the comity of nations so it is bound by the global best practises and the necessary demands on governments to protect lives of the citizens and their property is ever present.
The supreme law (grund norm) known as the Constitution of Nigeria regards protection of lives and property of Nigerians as the Primary duty of government as enshrined in section 14 (2) (b). That section just cited states that: “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.”
However, the governments both at the Centre and the sub-national levels in all of Nigeria, beginning from the year 2015 till date, have failed abysmally in the area of meeting up with the aforementioned primary purpose of government. These failures must have consequences.
This is so, because, insecurity has continued to deteriorate in every strata of the society.
However, there are few places whereby the terrorists and killers of innocent citizens have been allowed to operate as much as they want and the most notorious is Kaduna State.
Ironically, the governor of Kaduna State Mr. Nasir El-ruffai whose tumultuous two terms of eight years will end on May 29th 2023, is someone known for controversies and has become one of the worst governors ever produced in Nigeria.
He is noted for threatening foreign election observers. He is also noted for his divisive religious tendencies of exclusion of non-Muslims into strategic state government offices and by his body language, he is exhibiting the tendency that marks him out as a fascist and an unrepentant religious bigot.
Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State just before the re-election in 2019, revealed that foreign powers planning to interfere in the 2019 elections would “leave Nigeria in body bags.”
But in swift reaction, the European Union Election Observation Mission said its election observers are impartial, did not interfere in the electoral process and operated, according to a strict code of conduct.
Sadly, President Muhammadu Buhari backed the bellicose governor by wrongly stating that the governor spoke in defence of national interest when he warned foreigners against interfering with the internal affairs of Nigeria. That was before the 2019 election.
The Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, in trying to clarify a controversial statement he made about killing foreign forces who interfere in Nigeria’s elections, ended up trying to maintain his illegal position and hate message.
“Those that are calling for anyone to come and intervene in Nigeria, we are waiting for the person that would come and intervene, they would go back in body bags,” the governor said, appearing referring to any attempt by anyone to intervene militarily in Nigeria.
“Affirming that a country will defend itself against needless intervention is the kind of statement you expect to hear from a patriot. It is not a call for violence,” the governor said in the statement signed by his spokesperson, Samuel Aruwan.
Read the full statement by of El-ruffai: “A notorious trait of the characters that constitute the opposition in Nigeria is the manufacture of outrage on flimsy grounds. However, contriving anger on false premises and summoning a din of feverish commentary will not alter the facts. Election season is regarded as silly season in some quarters, but it is a very serious moment.
When Malam Nasir El-Rufai appeared on NTA’s Tuesday Night Live, he made comments every patriot can understand. He stood up for Nigeria’s dignity in the wake of those who would traduce their country and reduce it to the status of a colony in their vain quest for power.
The video of his comments is in circulation. Any fair-minded person with modest familiarity with the English language and unimpaired comprehension can understand it. It does not contain any call for violence. What it is a powerful defence of sovereignty. Are some sections of our political class implying that they will acquiesce in or collaborate with foreign intervention in our country?
Affirming that a country will defend itself against needless intervention is the kind of statement you expect to hear from a patriot. It is not a call for violence. Warning about the consequences of meddling in another country’s affairs is legitimate.
Non-interference in the affairs of other countries is a basic principle of international law. Threatening to intervene in another country implies the use of force. Those who are basing their electoral calculations on foreign intervention need to be discouraged. Only the lawful votes of the Nigerian people should make or unmake governments.
Malam Nasir El-Rufai has issued a powerful call for vigilance and a clear notice that other countries should not mistake the supine posture of the opposition for national weakness.
Malam Nasir El-Rufai has stood firmly against those who have been trying to divide Nigerians on ethnic and religious lines. He is resolutely
opposed to violence, and firmly committed to peace and harmony”, El-Rufai had clarified through his political lackey.
That election came and went. But the killings by sundry terrorists, Fulani armed herdsmen that dominated governor El-Rufai’s first term from 2015 to 2019, has become widespread. The killings are most around Southern Kaduna dominated by Christians and natives.
Historically, it is correct to state that Southern Kaduna straddles the centre of Nigeria, and has a long record of intense political and ethno-religious struggles for power, territory, economic opportunities and agricultural resources. Under successive periods of political transformation in Nigeria, many of the tribal groups in southern Kaduna have shaped their histories and identities around deeply held grievances and the perception of suppression by the more politically influential Hausa-Fulani people. A lack of development, declining education, poverty, weak and distrusted government, the diminishing influence of traditional leaders, political exclusion and rivalries, and the lack of opportunity for southern Kaduna’s youth population have all played a part in escalating the crisis. The result has been a slow-burning, poorly-tracked cycle of bloody intercommunal violence mainly involving nomadic or semi-nomadic Fulani herdsmen and local farmers. But though ethnic tensions inflame the conflict, there are multiple challenges intertwined with sectarian tensions, including rural banditry, cattle rustling, land use and access disputes, farm and herding differences, transhumance and grazing disputes, electoral violence, criminal gangs, arms proliferation, high youth unemployment and even the prevalence of drug abuse”, these were excerpts from a well articulated research work by a team.
El-Ruffai it would seem, has created the perception, wrongly or rightly, that those killings are even to be celebrated rather than work out strategies to stop the killers intheir tracks before they strike. The way the killings are celebrated by the state government has the risk of making an observer to conclude that “bodybags”, may after all be a badge of honour amongst the government in place in Kaduna State. Otherwise, why does the Kaduna State government take media pleasure in announcing the numbers of fatalities all the time? Is the duty of government to announce obituaries or to protect the people from unwarranted attacks and violent deaths? But for this government in Kaduna, announcing to the World how many of their citizens are killed has assumed the notoriety of ‘a badge of honour’, but this must be challenged. We need to tell this controversial and troublesome governor who threatened to turn foreign election observers into bodybags, that government is not in existence to glamourise the killings by terrorists.
Few months back, the Kaduna State administration maintained the toxic tempo of announcing fatalities from terrorism by stating that at least 937 people died in violent attacks and mass atrocities in Kaduna State last year, an annual security report by the state government has shown.
The report released recently attributed the deaths to kidnappings, banditry and other criminal activities that cut “across all ethnic and religious groups” in Kaduna State.
“Victims of criminal acts like banditry and kidnapping are to be found across ethnic, religious or political leanings and persuasions,’’ Samuel Aruwan, the state’s commissioner for internal security and home affairs, said while presenting the report.
In his presentation, Mr Aruwan said that of the 937 killed, Igabi Local Government Area recorded the highest number of casualties (152), followed by Kajuru Local Government Area with 144 casualties.
He added that Birnin Gwari, Igabi, Giwa and Chikun local governments in Kaduna central accounted for about 50 per cent (or 468 deaths) of the entire fatalities in the state.
Meanwhile, 286 died in Kaduna South from the violent attacks, which is about one third of the total.
“This is due in large part to sporadic clashes, alongside banditry which triggered attacks and counter-attacks, especially between June and November 2020,’’ the commissioner said.
He said 1,972 persons were kidnapped within the period under review.
While receiving the report, the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, said the state has been using its limited resources to address the security challenges facing it.
Mr El-Rufai paid tribute to the victims of insecurity, reiterating his administration’s effort in protecting lives and properties of the people of the state.
“The Kaduna state Government has also invested in technology to help secure the state,” the governor said adding that “A CCTV network is being deployed in Kaduna metropolis while options for consistent operations of its drones are being explored.’’
The governor also explained that he has been collaborating with neighbouring states to tackle the menace of insecurity.
“Together with Niger State and our neighbours in the North-west, we put together resources to fund military operations against bandits in the Kamuku-Kuyambana forest range that straddles the region.”
He, however, regretted that this collaboration which was done in 2015 was not sustained or expanded into a campaign of continuous, simultaneous operations against the bandits across the egion.
Failure to contain and defeat them has emboldened them to develop a national footprint and endanger national cohesion, he said
“The security of our communities depend on the robust projection of state power, and that can only be done with sufficient security numbers to overawe and deter criminals,’’ the governor added
He also called for the decentralisation of policing, noting 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.
The state government has continued with the Obituary announcement.
The Kaduna State government has just said that 214 people were killed between January and March this year in attacks by bandits and terrorists, communal clashes, violent attacks, and reprisals.
It said the 214 victims comprised of 14 females, 196 males, and four minors across the three senatorial districts. It also said 746 others were kidnapped within the period.
This is contained in the Annual Security Report for 2023 presented by the state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, yesterday in Kaduna.
The report said 89 bandits were also killed during engagements with ground forces, military, and police across the state within the period.
It said five bandits also died due to fratricidal clashes within themselves, bringing the number of bandits’ deaths to 94 and scores killed in air strikes.
Kaduna Central Senatorial District recorded 115 deaths with 108 of them occurring in Birnin Gwari, Giwa, Igabi, Chikun, and Kajuru LGAs. Giwa and Birnin Gwari LGAs each recorded 32 deaths, Chikun LGA 25, Igabi 13, and Kajuru six deaths within the first quarter.
Kaduna South Senatorial District recorded 61 deaths, but most were due to reprisal and communal clashes in Zangon Kataf with 19 deaths and 12 killed in Sanga LGA.
Kaduna North District recorded 38 deaths, with 22 occurring in Zaria LGA.
A total of 746 people were kidnapped in the first quarter with Kaduna Central Senatorial District accounting for 492 (about 66% of the total). All of these occurred in Birnin Gwari, Giwa, Igabi, Chikun and Kajuru LGAs.
Also, 137 people were kidnapped from Birnin Gwari LGA, and 131 from Igabi LGA. Giwa LGA recorded 100 kidnapped persons, Chikun LGA 83, and Kajuru LGA 41.
Southern Kaduna Senatorial District recorded 221 kidnapped persons, with Kachia LGA reporting the highest number of 95. Sixty-three people were kidnapped in Kagarko LGA, and 46 from Kauru LGA.
The Northern Senatorial District recorded 33 kidnapped persons with 17 of these from Lere LGA.
In total, 254 women and 42 minors were kidnapped in the first quarter across the state
The report stated that in the 4th quarter of 2022, 246 victims were killed due to deaths linked to banditry and other crimes in the state.
According to the 2022 security report, 280 bandits were killed during engagements with security agencies in the state.
Aruwan explained that 746 people were kidnapped within the first quarter of 2023, with Kaduna Central zone accounting for 492 within Birnin Gwari, Giwa, Igabi, Chikun, and Kajuru LGAs.
This is a reduction in the number of people kidnapped compared to the figure presented in the 4th quarter report of 2022 where 1,049 were kidnapped.
A total of 116 citizens (all adults, with only six women) were injured across the state due to banditry and terrorism, among others. In the 4th quarter of 2022, 140 were injured.
In the 2023 annual report, 3,247 animals were rustled within the period, with 2,353 stolen from Kaduna Central Senatorial District.
According to the report, 12 rape cases were reported within the period, with two females and 10 minors affected, with only five rape cases reported in the 4th quarter of 2022 security report.
Aruwan also explained that within the period under review in 2023, gun runners were intercepted and arrested with quantities of arms and ammunition.
Sadly, those at the receiving end of these genocidal killings are not given justice because the killers are neither arrested or prosecuted through the competent court of law as stipulated by section 6 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
As aforementioned, the victims of the 18 December 2022 attack in Malagum 1 and Sokong communities on Saturday in the Kaura Local Government Area of Kaduna State have given horrific details of how terrorists murdered 40 villagers in the communities.
Sources who spoke with the media explained that despite the attacks, the communities were still being threatened with calls from the gunmen that they would strike again.
Speaking when a delegation of non-governmental organisations visited the affected communities led by Rev Gideon Para-Mallam, one of the victims of the last attack explained that at about 9:50 am on Saturday, he received a phone call from those who perpetrated the violence telling him that they were coming back to attack them again.
He explained, “The attackers are using the cell-phones of the victims they killed to call their loved ones and threaten them that they are coming to attack them again.”
Nathan Yashim, one of the victims who narrated his ordeal, disclosed that his father, mother and stepbrother were butchered and set ablaze like animals during the attack.
He lamented that he could not hold back his tears, saying that his dreams in life had been completely shattered.
He said, “Those who perpetrated the act on our communities are Fulanis. For two hours, the attackers were operating without a single security man coming to rescue us.
“I am one of the biggest farmers in this community, but I lost everything and I don’t know how to start life again.”
Earlier, during a town-hall meeting at Kagoro, the President of the Kagoro Development Association, Prof. Jalz Gambo, debunked the impression that what took place at Malagum 1 and Sokong communities was a communal clash.
He said the two communities were attacked while going about their normal businesses.
Another victim, Joseph Utuk, who narrowly escaped the attack in the Sokong community, accused security operatives of being complicit.
He further explained that after the attack in their community alone, nine people were killed on December 18, adding that the attackers came back again the following evening, but the military repelled them.
He stated that following the attacks by the gunmen, they are living in fear, not knowing what could befall them at any moment in their lives.
He appealed to the government to deploy and establish a security base in Kagoro to help check any future attacks and to inform the locals of the incessant attacks by the gunmen.
A report by Chatham House London titled “Walking the tight-rope,” made the following points: “The Kaduna State government, led by Governor Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, now faces enormous pressure to act. In office since 2015, his administration, and that of the federal government, have been accused of a conspiracy of silence, and are facing mounting popular criticism on the ground and on social media. The governor must walk a tight-rope over the state’s gaping majority/minority divide. His identity as a Hausa-Fulani and Muslim is already being used by some to measure his neutrality. El-Rufai’s statements regarding compensation to transhumance herders – an occupation associated with nomadic Fulani communities – have come under sharp criticism, and play easily into long-standing local narratives of preferential treatment for certain ethno-religious and cultural groups. Avoiding these controversies while at the same time restoring civil order, managing local instigators and pursing justice will be a defining test for El-Rufai’s first term in office.
The state’s history of violence suggests the ongoing crisis cannot be ended simply through military or law enforcement means alone– no matter how sincere these actions may be. It will require a long-term, multi-pronged and well-resourced security and rural development plan”.
The report above cited briefly was from the UK based research institute called Chatham House and this must have been published during El-Rufai’s first tenure which ended in 2019. His final non renewable tenure is ending in few weeks but the only communication from the Kaduna State government centred around the announcement of the fatalities from the mindless attacks by terrorists with no statements on how many terrorists and killers have been prosecuted and punished.
The Kaduna State governor doesn’t seem to be concerned about a legacy.
What then will be the legacy of his administration when he is gone from power? And as he loses domestic immunity from arrest and prosecution, it will be interesting to see how the victims through their leadership in Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) will take step to compel El-Rufai to render accounts of his eight years of stewardship which witnessed pains, panngs, deaths, destructions and churning out of large population of internally displaced persons through these unwarranted killings which are crimes against humanity that must be treated whether locally or before the International Criminal Court in The Hague Netherlands.
*EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA and was NATIONAL COMMISSIONER OF THE NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION OF NIGERIA.