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Flashback: El-Rufai makes 360-degree turn over calls for rescuing kidnapped students

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IN the build-up to the presidential election in 2015, Nasir El-Rufai, incumbent Kaduna State Governor, took a swipe at former President Goodluck Jonathan, asking him to vacate office over growing security threats in the country.

At the time, over 200 schoolgirls were abducted from their hostel in Chibok, Borno state, an incident that sparked off an outrage locally and internationally.

In an interview El-Rufai granted in 2014, he blamed the ex-president for his failure to rescue the missing girls and asked him “to go home” for being the only president that couldn’t tackle insecurity.

“If one of these girls were Jonathan’s daughter, the story would be different; the only reason why these girls are still in captivity is that they are not the daughters of any important Nigerian, and we know it.

“So if you say we are politicising terrorism, go and rescue the girls, so I don’t have a basis for politicising it…I am in support of any option to rescue the girls because when you have the lives of your citizens at risk, you should not take any option off the table; you should be flexible,” he said.

Fast forward to six years after, under his leadership as Governor of Kaduna State, security remains the biggest challenge as students get kidnapped more frequently.

But his tone on the abduction of students from schools in Kaduna State, where he is the Chief Security Officer, reflects a sharp contrast from the previous statements he made six years ago before he became governor.

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In a radio interview, El-Rufai reiterated his government’s policy of not negotiating with bandits but would apply force in dealing with bandits and other violent criminals.

“I mean it, and I will say it again here. Even if my son is kidnapped, I will rather pray for him to make heaven instead because I won’t pay any ransom,” he said.

The corpses of two more students abducted from Greenfield University found at a location close to the university raises the death toll of the abducted students killed by the bandits to five.

The private institution was attacked by gunmen last Tuesday when an unknown number of kidnapped students.

However, Greenfield University’s invasion is the third time bandits are attacking a school in Kaduna this year.

In March, bandits stormed UBE primary school at Rama in Birnin-Gwari LGA, days after a similar attack.

They had also attacked the Federal College Of Forestry Mechanisation in Igabi LGA, abducting 39 students, 10 of whom have regained freedom.

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Parents of the 29 students in captivity have continued to stage protests, asking the state government to negotiate with the bandits to secure their children’s release.

They had also threatened to reach out to the bandits after it became clear the state government would not dialogue with the attackers.

Author profile

Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.

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