Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai has restated that his administration will not negotiate with bandits despite the recent kidnapping incidents in the state.
El-Rufai stated this during an expanded meeting of the State Security Council, which was held at the Council Chambers of Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, Kaduna, on Tuesday.
El-Rufai’s assertion probably followed mounting pressure on him to negotiate for the release of 39 abducted students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, in the Igabi local government area of the state.
The students were kidnapped last Thursday when armed bandits stormed the school.
The state government said the attack was carried out by a large group of “armed bandits,” adding that the military engaged the attackers and was able to take 180 staff and students to safety.
A popular Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, has been negotiating peace deals with bandits and visiting their dens.
However, El-Rufai, who had earlier said it was useless to negotiate with the kidnapping bandits in the North, reiterated his administration’s stance not to negotiate with them, saying that his job as governor is to enforce the law and help to prosecute people who commit offences.
In addition to regular officials of the state government, also in attendance at the meeting were security officers, traditional rulers, religious leaders, and guests from professional associations, trade unions, and others.
“We will not engage with bandits or kidnappers. Private citizens like clerics and clergymen can do so in their individual capacities, to preach to them and ask them to repent. We also want them to repent but it is not our job to ask them to do so,’’ he said.
According to him, the best way to solve the farmer-herder clashes, cattle rustling, and banditry is for nomadic herdsmen to live more sedentary lives for them to be more productive and give their children education and access to better healthcare.
The governor argued that nomadic or transhumance cattle breeding has been rendered obsolete by urbanisation and population growth as most of the cattle routes have been taken over by development.
El-Rufai said that Kaduna State Government was implementing a big ranching project in Damau Grazing Reserve in the Kubau Local Government Area, adding that the project would make about 1,500 herdsmen sedentary.
He further emphasised that the project will enable the herders to raise their cattle in a facility with pastures, a school, and a Primary Health Centre, with a commercial partner ready to buy their milk.
The governor commended the security agents for all their efforts to keep Kaduna state residents safe, despite the challenges that they are facing.
El-Rufai also called for decentralisation of the police force, maintaining that Nigeria is the only federation that operates a unitary police force that is funded by but not controlled by state governments.