THE governor of Kaduna State Nasir El-Rufai has vowed to prosecute anyone found negotiating with bandits on behalf of the state government.
El-Rufai disclosed this when he appeared on Politics Today programme aired on Channels TV on Sunday evening, reiterating that his government would not negotiate with bandits despite high rate of kidnapping in the state.
“Some people are pretending to negotiate with the bandits on our behalf. We have issued a statement that we are going to trace these people, we are going to prosecute them.
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“…by giving money in the name of the state government is an offence under the penal code with the same penalty as kidnapping and brigandage itself and we intend to pursue these people will prosecute them,” El-Rufai said.
The ICIR reported that former senator who represented Kaduna Central (between 2015 and 2019) Shehu Sani had visited an Islamic cleric Ahmad Gumi, asking him to help secure the release of students and members of Redeemed Christian Church separately kidnapped by bandits in the state.
Gumi has, in recent times, touted himself as a negotiator between bandits and the government, while advocating that amnesty should be granted to bandits and empathy shown towards them.
To El-Rufai, bandits and other kidnappers operating in the North-East and North-West are funders of terrorism in Nigeria.
He noted that the bandits were terrorists and should be treated as such because they were fighting against the sovereignty of Nigeria.
According to the governor, the kidnapping business had become a large industry in the North-East as the insurgents had food, drug, petrol suppliers as well as informants paid with the money recovered from kidnapping.
He further stated that security operatives had apprehended one Mallam Abbas, a member of Ansaru, a branch of Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP).
He said Ansaru congregated in the forest in Birnin Gwari Local Government of Kaduna State, adding that they had similar objectives to Boko haram except that they were not against western education but were against all symbols of authority and their agenda was to bring down the Nigerian state.
“The most important finding is that the money from this kidnapping is substantially going towards funding terrorist operations of Ansaru in the North-West and the Boko Haram in the North-East,” he stated.
Due to the position of El-Rufai on kidnappers and bandits, 39 students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka in Kaduna State, have remained in the kidnappers’ den for more than 20 days.
Speaking on the kidnapped students, El-Rufai said negotiating with the kidnappers or paying them would amount to empowering the enemy.
He added that the government would do everything there was to stop kidnapping and banditry.
‘There is only one option, that is the only logical and sensible option. All other options are irrational emotional and stupid.”
Kaduna State has recently become the haven of kidnappers and bandits as about 150 persons have been kidnapped in the state in the past month. While some have been released, others are still being held.