Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, has insisted that his administration will not negotiate with bandits, noting that his view on dialogue with criminal elements for the release of abductees has changed.
Governor El-Rufai made this known in a statement issued by Muyiwa Adekeye, his Special Adviser on Media and Communication, on Tuesday while reacting to a viral video of him urging for the then-Federal Government to negotiate for the release of abductees.
A video surfaced on the social media on Tuesday showing the governor asking the administration of former president Goodluck Jonathan to dialogue with the terrorist group, Boko Haram for the release of the students of the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, who were abducted in 2014.
Bandits had on Monday killed two students of a private institution, Greenfield University, in Kaduna, days after three of such students were killed.
Also, at least 29 students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, Kaduna, are still in captivity 47 days after their abduction due to the no-ransom policy of the El-Rufai government.
But according to Governor El-Rufai, the abduction of people by criminal groups has since evolved, noting that it has now become an enterprise for the criminals, who use the proceeds of the ransoms paid to further equip themselves.
He stated that the negotiation and payment of ransoms has not stopped attacks but further emboldened criminals to carry out attacks against vulnerable targets, insisting that the use of force by the law enforcement agencies remains the only credible solution to nip terrorism and banditry in the bud.
The statement read: “Those pushing that kind of narrative are sharing a video clip of a 2014 interview in which Mallam Nasir El-Rufai called on the government of President Goodluck Jonathan to use all options, including negotiation, to rescue the Chibok girls. The years since 2014 may have led some people to forget the denial and doubt that defined the FG’s response to the Chibok abductions, especially the initial refusal to acknowledge that it happened. That was the context under which civic pressures were brought on the government.
“Nigeria’s journey since the 2014 Chibok tragedy has proven that the solution to violent crimes, including terrorism and banditry, is a robust response from the state and its coercive agencies. The quantum of money paid as ransom following many negotiations with bandits have not stopped kidnappings, reduced their frequency or deterred criminals.
“The experience of many states in the Northwest of Nigeria since 2015 has included cattle rustling, kidnappings, killings and the devastation of communities by criminals. Several states sought to negotiate their way out of the problem by talking to bandits, paying them money or offering them amnesty. This has not worked and has only encouraged the criminals to press ahead for a surrender of the public treasury to them. That is clearly not in the public interest.
“Mass abductions was like in novelty in 2014. But the facts have changed since then. Negotiations and ransoms have been undertaken, but these have not stopped the criminals. It has only encouraged them. It is prudent to review one’s position when the facts change, and the suggestion made by a citizen years ago cannot be taken as the immutable answer to a serious problem which has evolved since 2014, no matter the viral replays of the said video clip.”
Governor El-Rufai, however, regretted the recent “kidnaps and killings of students from tertiary institutions in our state, and we sympathise with their families with whom we share the aim of the safe return of all the students. We mourn the dead students and we offer our condolences to the family and friends of the deceased”.
He, however, said his administration will not yield to the bandits’ demand to pay ransom for the abducted students, insisting that all criminals must be crushed.
“The ruthless and heartless resort of the kidnappers to murdering these young persons is part of their effort to further their blackmail and compel us to abandon our ‘no-ransom, no-negotiation’ policy. Are people bothering with the consequences of state surrender to hoodlums, or is the continued politicization of security challenges not going to make all of us ultimately victims of the insurgents?
“The fact that criminals seek to hold us by the jugular does not mean we should surrender and create an incentive for more crime. In today’s Nigeria, it has become fashionable to treat the unlawful demands of bandits as worthy of consideration and to lampoon people who insist that outlaws should be crushed and not mollycoddled or availed the resources they can use to unleash further outrages,” the statement read.