By Lateef Adgbite
When Nasir El-Rufai, a former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, during President Olusegun Obasanjo Presidency and now governor of Kaduna state, said that the Bandits operating in the local Communities state are gradually extending their activities into the cities without fear of arrest, not many people took him serious.
The security operatives may have seen it as mission impossible because of the tight security in the major Ttowns and cities in the north west states ofZamfara, Kaduna and Katsina particular. But Abubakar Sa’ad, a retired Brigadier General and Sultan of Sokoto, may have read the handwriting on the wall, that no part of the north is safe when the Bandits entered Sokoto state to attack Communities.
The Bandits may have proved the Sultan right with their attack at the Gayan area, an outskirt of Zaria, a major city in Kaduna state, described a second home of the Criminal elements , next to Zamfara, on Monday, June 14, 2021.
This may have fueled speculations making the rounds that the Bandits have infiltrated the north west state cities and are already living among the people where they could plot and execute their attacks and kidnap with ease ,before the security operatives could arrive the scene to challenge them.
The bandits were said to have arrived the outskirts of the City of Zaria, because they had already entered area when the residents were still sleeping to be able to attack some houses. Police accounts confirmed based on feelers from the people that they had abducted a family of eight members in the area and four other residents in other houses attacked.
The Bandits attack in Zaria where the University of Zaria and other major higher institutions including other private Institutions are sited in the state may have informed why Agyole Abeh, the state Commissioner of Police, who was said to have been alerted about the attack and the kidnap in the Gayan area of the city could give a matching order to the to the police Commander in Zaria Local government Area and the other nearby Local government Areas to Zaria to do everything within their capacity to rescue the kidnap victims.
The security operatives were said to have moved into action immediately they got the Commissioner’s directive who was said to be working closely with El-Rufai, the state governor, ‘’ to patrol the general and along the Kadun-Zaria highway with a view to arresting the Criminals and rescuing the 12 persons who had been kidnapped for ransom’’.
Eyewitness accounts said the number of kidnapped victims in the outskirts of the Zaria city could have been more than the figure bandied about by the Kaduna state police Command both not for the quick intervention of the policemen who were said to have arrived the scene to engage the bandits ina gun battle forcing them to flee with their kidnapped victims.
The Bandits attack on the outskirts of the Zaria city have sent a message to Usman Alkali Baba, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, and Farouk Yahaya, a Major General and Chief of Army Staff, COAS, that they are unstoppable in their attacks and kidnap business. This is where the IGP and the Yahaya, the COAS, may have to go back to the drawing board to restrategise on how to deal decisively with the bandits who are scattered all over the north west states of Zamfara, Kaduna, Sokoto , Kebbi and Katsina, President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Army General home state, in the north west geopolitical region the language they will understand as alluded by the Nigerian President in his June 11, 2021, interview, with NTA.
Prior to the Bandits attack at the Gayan area of Zaria city, the Bandits had earlier tested the waters in the city by attacking the main Campus of the Nuhu Bamali Polytechnic, which is sited in the Kaduna city on Thursday, June 10, 2021, at their usual time of such attacks: night, when most of the students had gone to bed.
They were said to have kidnapped no fewer than ten victims from the Institution, comprising of eight students and two Lecturers.. But another account has it that only one Lecturer was kidnapped by the gang. The bandits were said to have fully prepared for the Nuhu Bamali Polytechnic attack as they were said to have shot sporadically at the Campus.
Two students were said to have been hit by the strait bullet but one of them, one Ahmad Muhammed, was said to have died of the bullet wounds. That much was confirmed by Samuel Aruwan, the Kaduna state Commissioner of Internal security and home Affairs after an on the spot assessment of the attack.
Many believe that both not for the indefinite closure of the Polytechnic by the school Authorities at the instance of the state government in the first attack of the city, it could have been attacked again in this time around, an indications that that it was the same bandit kidnap gang , who are working closely with the Islamic State of West African Province, ISWAP, based in the north east state of Borno, Lake Chad region, that have carried the attacks, ostensibly to raise funds to buy arms from their ransoms deemand that may be be paid by the state government. They got it wrong.
Many believe that the Bandits in the north west Kaduna state may have intensified their attacks and kidnap operations in the state because of a Statement allegedly credited to El- Rufai, the state governor that he will never ‘’Negotiate or entertain the bandits ransom demand even if his own son was kidnapped’’.
Recall that the bandits had kidnapped five students from Greenfield University , last May, barely two months after the abduction of 39 students from Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation at Afaka, Igabi Local government Area of the in March, 2021. Note that bandits had demanded for N500 million from the state government to facilitate the release of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation students which was said to have been turned down by Elf-Rufai.
The bandits who had kidnapped the Greenfield University students may have known that the Kaduna state governor who had already made up his mind that the government would not Negotiate with them for the release of the kidnapped students may have resorted to plan B, to kill one of the victims, to force him to soft pedal but no luck.
There are fears in both official and unofficial quarters that Bandits who are desperate to raise funds to sustain the tempo of their attacks in the state may adopt the same approach used in the Greenfield University matter in to force the governor, described as a one-time strong advocates in support for Negotiation with’’ the armed non-state actors’’ as a private citizen during former president Goodluck Jonathan Presidency over the kidnap of276 chibok girls in 2014 by the Islamic Fundamentalist Group, BokoHaram.
El-Rufai, may have realised that ransoms payment to the bandits would not solve the insecurity situation in his state that he had refused to toe the line, which the bandits may have considered as a slap on their face and thus, had decided to make the state uncomfortable for him to rule by the incessant attacks on Communities and Kidnap of students of higher Institutions in the recent time.
The Katsina state born Nigerian President may have been worried about the insecurity situation in the north, particular, the north west stats of Zamfara, Kaduna and Katsina, that he had meet with the 19 Northern states governors, irrespective of their political divide last April at the Presidential villa.
He was said to have assured the Northern governors who were said to have been led to the closed door meeting by Samuel Lalong, governor of the north central state of Plateau and Chairman , Northern Governors Forum, NGF, of his Administaration’s Commitment ‘’to end all forms of insecurity in the region and the country in general’’.
The governors, were said to have taken advantage of the meeting with the Commander –In-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, ‘’ to narrate their experiences and individual efforts at finding lasting solutions to the crisis in the respective states and their expectation from the Nigerian President who has control of the nation’s security agencies which included the military , police and the intelligentsia.
The insecurity situation in the north west states, of Zamfara, Kaduna and Katsina , particular, appears to be getting worse after the meeting between the retired Army General and the northern governors as confirmed by Matawalle Bello, governor of Zamfara state, described as home of the bandits, who has ordered the people to defend themselves from the banditsinstead of looking up to the government to come to their support every now and then, because of other contending demands.