By Anayo Okoli, Dapo Akinrefon, Davies Iheamnachor, Peter Duru, Chimaobi Nwaiwu, Hassan Wuyo & Luminous Jannamike
Hard knocks, weekend, greeted comments by Kaduna State governor, Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai, that the Federal Government could not decisively tackle Boko Haram insurgents, bandits and kidnappers the way it handled Mazi Nnamdi Kanu because they are different from the case of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, leader.
Following the arrest of Kanu in Kenya and re-arraignment in Nigeria, some critics of the Federal Government alleged that the Buhari Administration is pampering bandits and Boko Haram insurgents and tasked the government on prompt action on these issues.
In an interview with BBC Pidgin, El-Rufai had said it is wrong to compare bandits with Kanu.
“Nnamdi Kanu is the leader of IPOB, a proscribed organisation. He is identifiable, in constant communication and everyone knows where he is. Let’s take Boko Haram for instance. Shekau was in hiding and for the past 10 years the military had been waging a war to get him.
“It is not like Shekau was in Saudi Arabia, sitting in one place, tweeting about the break up of Nigeria or asking Boko Haram to go and kill Helen and Nasir el-Rufai. Nnamdi Kanu is in one place while Shekau is waging guerrilla warfare. The insurgency is still going on and the Federal Government is not giving up.
“Regarding bandits, they are not centralised under one leadership. Who is the head of the bandits? Who is the equivalent of Nnandi Kanu with banditry? Bandits are just collections of independent criminals. It is a business for them. It is not a case of Nigeria must break up. I want to challenge anyone to tell me the central leader of bandits in the same position as Kanu,” the governor had said.
El-Rufai’s view, however, elicited sharp criticisms from Afenifere, Ohanaeze, Middle-Belt Forum, Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, and Elder Statesman, Chief Mbazulike Amechi, who said the insurgents and bandits constituted more dangers to the country than Kanu and IPOB.
However, the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, said the matter should be left for the courts to determine.
El-Rufai turning logic upside down– Afenifere
The Pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, faulted Governor el-Rufai for allegedly trying to turn logic upside down.
Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Jare Ajayi, said: “It is quite regrettable that a person of Governor el-Rufai’s status, having been a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and now a governor, could reason the way he has reasoned.
“He said, for instance, that militants or agitators like Nnamdi Kanu, including, of course, by implication, Sunday Igboho, are not in the same category with Shekau and other bandits in the North.
“Yes, to us, they are different. Nnamdi Kanu, Sunday Igboho and the likes are drawing attention to the rights of their people that are being denied and for that reason, they said that if the Nigerian nation can no longer guarantee the rights of their people, they should be allowed to go.
“That is the summary of the agitations of the Nnamdi Kanus, Sunday Igbohos. One may or may not like their style but that is the summary of their objective.
“On the other hand, the position of Shekau and Boko Haram is that they want to gain territory in the Federal Republic of Nigeria by force. They are kidnapping, raping and killing. They are quite different from the approach of Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho.
“So, for a governor, who is supposed to be a leader, to now compare the two and even try to exonerate and justify the position of Shekau and Boko Haram, is a pity and regrettable.
“It is also a reason we may not be able to quickly get out of this mess because those who are supposed to know better and advise the Federal Government in a better way are turning logic upside down and it is regrettable. Afenifere disagrees with his position because it is not the correct position.”
El-Rufai’s comparison’s wrong – Ohanaeze
On its part, the apex Igbo Socio-Cultural Organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, according to its spokesman, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, said: “Agitation is expression of illicit deprivation.
“Agitation means they have taken things which you are supposed to have, things that belong to you which they have not given to you.
“It is an expression of relative deprivation, the extreme of agitation is what they call secession.
“What is required in agitation and secession is a bargain, dialogue, diplomatic talks, what you may call negotiation or diplomatic form of relationship. In this situation, you hear out the other side which is very clear.
“On the other hand, you talk about banditry, kidnapping and so on which is crime and criminality. When you talk about killing, kidnapping and so on, it is the highest form of terrorism. While this one is talking about criminality, kidnapping terrorism; the other one is talking about agitation because of illicit deprivation.
“They are two set of things and not related at all. So whatever El-Rufai may have said, he is entitled to his opinion but I will like him to judge the two things, the difference between them. They are not related at all.
“To think about secession and agitation and equating it to banditry is to say the least. It is unexpected of a governor to say.”
El-Rufai may be right—ADF
In its reaction, Alaigbo Development Foundation, ADF, in a statement by its spokesman, Abia Onyike, said: “Governor El-Rufai may be right, even if for a different reason.
“We see the IPOB as one of the groups agitating for the restoration and self-determination of the Biafran people. They want Biafra to become an independent republic within the African Union.
“Boko Haram is fighting for the enthronement of an Islamic state all over Nigeria. They want to Islamize Nigeria. These are two different political tendencies. Bandits are plain criminals, who are involved in kidnapping and plundering.
“We are witnessing the politics of warlordism in Nigeria because the Nigerian state is on the verge of failure and collapse, hence Boko Haram and the Islamic state of West Africa have sprung up to seize power.
“Those fighting for self-determination are forced to do so because of the extremist and isolationist policies of the Nigerian state, which has failed to recognize and respect the fundamental rights of the federating units in the federation.
“And strangely enough, even the murderous campaign of herdsmen was not checkmated by the federal government’s security agencies.”
On the issue of where Nnamdi Kanu was arrested, ADF said that “if Kenya says that Kanu was not arrested in their country, let the Nigerian government tell us where he was arrested.”
Allow the court to decide— ACF
Reacting, Mr. Emmanuel Yawe, spokesman of ACF, said: “That is left for the courts to decide. What El- Rufai said is his personal opinion. On issues such as this, only the courts are mandated to determine what is an offence.”
El-Eufai’s making mockery of his intelligence— PANDEF
To the Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, Governor El-Rufai’s position is ridiculous and made mockery of his intelligence.
Publicity Secretary of PANDEF, Ken Robinson, said IPOB leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, and leader of the Yoruba secessionists group, Sunday Igboho, were not killers but freedom fighterss as against the killer herdsmen and others in the North.
Robinson noted that Kanu and Igboho do not go about killing people but are committed to the fight of saving their people and holding government accountable.
He said: “It is ridiculous that El-Rufai with all the intelligence attributed to him and his knowledge of state affairs will make such absurd statement.
“All Sunday Igboho is doing is to defend the lives and property of his people and call for self-determination that Yoruba should decide their destiny. He has not been going about killing and kidnapping people, destroying livelihoods and making life unbearable for people.
“All IPOB is doing is calling for Biafra State. All these are manifestations of the disaffection in the country, the lopsided nature of the affairs of government in terms of appointments, projects and programmes and resource distribution.
“People are angry, the young people are angry. Citizens are not happy and the reaction of government is to cause more provocation, raiding the homes of some citizens in the night, killing people and destroying property.
“Just because people are asking that they decide how they live their lives, killer herdsmen in their forest should leave and let their people live in peace, the response by the government is to look for these people to kill and persecute them.
Then, on the other hand you have people; violent, criminal bandits marauding and killing people, kidnapping school children at will. No forest, no home, no community in the North has not been invaded in terms of the insecurity that is perpetuated across the country.
“In the Middle-Belt, communities are being decimated, livelihoods are completely devastated and people are finding it difficult to live. Nobody has been arrested, but government has the boldness to abduct somebody and forcible repatriate him to the country.
“It all boils down to the selectivity and nepotism that this administration has continued to perpetrate to the annoyance of Southern Nigerians.
“The government is too biased and discriminatory and it is the greatest danger to the unity and cooperate existence of Nigeria. Unfortunately, they have continued to carry on as bemused spectators in a theatre not minding that the country is collapsing.”
Yes, IPOB, Kanu ‘re different from Boko Haram, bandits but… – MBF
On its part, the Middle Belt Forum, MBF, agreed with Governor El-Rufai that IPOB is different from Boko Haram, killer herdsmen and bandits’ operation in the North, saying while the former is fighting to liberate its people, the latter is after the lives and well being of Nigerians.
National President of MBF, Dr. Bitrus Pogu, who spoke to Vanguard in Makurdi, said: “I agree that they are not the same. Nnamdi Kanu and his likes are freedom fighters. They are fighting for the liberation of their people.
“While the Boko Haram, bandits, killer herdsmen militia and their likes are not fighting for the liberation of anybody, they are just bunch of criminals killing and tormenting Nigerians. In that regard, I will say they are different.
“Therefore, concerning Governor El-Rufai’s statement, I agree that they are different. But you cannot justify the action of Boko Haram, killer herdsmen or bandits and because of that, you cannot arrest them.
“So in that regard I disagree with him because these people are more dangerous. They are operating as killer gangs who are just after the lives and well-being of Nigerians.
CAN knocks El-rufai over comment on Nnamdi Kanu’s rearrest
Slamming el-Rufai, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN’, Vice Chairman (Northern region), Reverend John Hayab, said the senseless killings and attacks going on in the country will end when the government stops categorising enemies of the state and treating some of them with kid gloves.
His words: “What I know is that every criminal is a criminal and every murderer a murderer.
“When elected leaders start calling some criminals and murderers that they know as angels while they say the murderers they do not know are the devil, then we will need to know from which dictionary they get their selfish definition.
“Nigeria will only overcome evil and stop the senseless killings going on in our land when we stop categorizing enemies of the country by treating some with kid gloves, and others with bullets. Every enemy that has taken the life of even just one citizen of this country should be treated the same way.”
El-Rufai’s wrong – Mbazulike Amechi
Also speaking, Elder statesman and First Republic Aviation Minister, Chief Mbazulike Amechi, lashed out at Governor El-Rufai.
Chief Amechi, who ironically noted that El Rufai might be right to say that IPOB and Boko Haram are not the same, said sarcastically: “El-Rufai is not wrong in saying that Boko Haram and IPOB cannot be compared because Boko Haram is devilish.
“Boko Haram kills people, burns villages and does all sorts of atrocities to human beings, while IPOB is not devilish, does not kill or burn anybody’s house, but only speaks, carry flags and demonstrates in the day without harming any Nigerian.
“Boko Haram, throws bomb at people not minding who will be victims, they are blood suckers backed by people like him. Therefore, you cannot compare them with IPOB members that only carry flags and march on the streets without harming or molesting any Nigerian.
“Law-abiding Hausas and Fulanis are in Igbo land, can any one of them come out to say that he or she was attacked by IPOB? So you cannot compare Boko Haram with IPOB, because Boko Haram is evil and devilish, while IPOB is not, and does not shed blood.
“So El-Rufai, ironically is right to say that IPOB cannot be compared with Boko Haram.”