January 8, 2022

Banditry: Discordant tunes trail El-Rufai’s call for carpet-bombing forests

Southern Kaduna killing

Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai.


CAN, CNG, Arewa Youths, others react 

By Ibrahim Hassan-Wuyo 

Barely a day after Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai of Kaduna State advocated that forests inhabited by bandits be carpet-bombed, there were reactions for and against the Governor’s remarks in which some feared that the collateral damage would be unimaginable. 

The Council of Imams and Ulamas in Kaduna State, while reacting, said ” this call is in line with several calls been made by the Council of Imams and Ulama for many years.

In a statement signed by the Secretary-General; Dr Yakubu Yusuf Arigasiyu, the Muslim leaders said 

“The issue of segmented attacks will not yield any positive result. There is the need for a clear tactical plan to understand the strategic locations of these bandits and deal with them once and for all.:

” The Military knows of these, nobody should tell them this, but my thinking perhaps is because of personal benefits some people are getting out of it they do not want to see to the end of this calamity. Otherwise, three months is too much for Nigeria Military to make banditry history in Nigeria. 

I really appreciate and support the suggestions made by his Excellency the Governor of Kaduna state.”

Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria ( CAN) in Northern states and Abuja, Rev.Joseph John Hayab, while reacting, said what he was advocating was “what many groups including CAN  have been calling on the Governor to do since 2018 but he has always viewed the suggestions as coming from those he has scores to settle with.”

Hayab who is also Chairman of CAN in Kaduna State explained that if El-Rufai “has done what he is saying now over three years ago Kaduna would have been saved and the many lives lost would have been averted.”

“The Governor’s call now may  be coming from fear he is having that he will soon be out of the office and be a free citizen like us not knowing what would his fate be with these evil people.”

“Therefore he is championing that they should be wiped out completely for self-protection and interest first, not a sign of concern for the suffering of the masses. The Governor  knows that many will support this suggestion though it is  coming late after the State  have suffered many losses.”

“CAN Kaduna State is urging him to go ahead and wipe the bandits and terrorists out of the forest but with less noise since they seem to know what he discusses even in his bedroom. We believe the best way to get at these enemies of the people and the State is by action, not noise making.”

Anthony Sani, elder statesman and immediate past Secretary-General of the Arewa Consultative Forum ( ACF), said  “while I agree with the strategy of taking the fight to the bandits and smoke them out of their hideouts in the forests, such tasks are not as easy as the Governor sees it.”

“This is because the bandits and gunmen are all over the forests across the nation while there are not enough trained and equipped security personnel who are well motivated to secure the whole country. As a result, the spread of the security personnel to man all the communities across the nation are too thin for any serious engagements in asymmetric conflicts. This is not conventional conflicts requiring only the use of hard power of military war but that of guerrilla war where some of the enemies live among the people.”

“What is more, there is no war where all the enemies are killed without due regard to collateral damage. There must be room for surrendering and laying down of arms by those who wish to do so. That is why there are local and international laws on rules of engagement that include how to deal with those who surrender and lay down their arms.”

“Furthermore, the need for addressing the underlying causes of the insecurity that borders on poverty that comes with unemployment and ignorance must be pursued concurrently along with the use of force, all of which need resources that are not limitless.”

“So let the President bring about the coming together with the relevant authorities and stakeholders together with a view to coming out with the most appropriate strategies needed to live up our synergistic potential against collective challenges for the good of all. After all, the tasks and responsibility for security cannot be left to government alone but for both leaders and the led,” Anthony Sani said.

The Arewa Youth Forum ( AYF), in a  reaction, called for caution in any attempt to comb the bushes in order to chase out the bandits. 

President of AYF, Gambo Ibrahim Gujungu, in a statement, stated that they are in support of any action that would bring an end to banditry and insurgency. 

” But such action should not be so extreme as to cause collateral damage capable of harming innocent people, animals and the environment. “

He was of the view that the military could explore several other war tactics to free our forests of bandits and many other criminal elements,pointing out that their continued occupation of these forests and the kind of atrocities they commit, was an affront to the nation’s sovereign status.

The Coalition of Northern Groups ( CNG), said everyone can today see reason in the position of El-Rufai that the forests which serve as enclaves for the bandits be bombed with the criminals.

The spokesperson of the coalition, Suleiman Abdulaziz said “in any case, it’s the responsibility of every government to secure the territorial boundaries of its country. The Nigerian government, therefore, owe an urgent responsibility to reclaim its forests, land borders, highways and seaways by the use of force if needs be.”

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“We hope to see that done soon now that the Federal Government has proclaimed the bandit’s terrorists. The CNG has all along been in the frontline of challenging the isolated responses by the state governments.

“We’re not unaware that there could be some collateral damage which the federal troops have assured would be professionally minimised; that we hope to see.

However, any government effort will certainly not succeed without the entire collective public resolve behind it. It is therefore expedient for the public to cooperate with security personnel, share useful information and above all, pray,” he said.

According to a social critic, Abubakar Atiku Nuhu Koko, doing what El-Rufai said would cause serious damage to the environment which would take a long time to normalise. 

El-Rufai was quoted to have said  “I have always believed that we should carpet-bomb the forest; we can re-plant the trees after but, let’s carpet-bomb the forests, kill all of them. There will be collateral damage but it’s better to wipe them out and bring peace back to our communities so that agriculture and rural economies can pick up than to continue this touch and go, touch and go isolated responses to banditry”.

While justifying his call for the total annihilation of bandits in the state, the Governor said, ”They kill people in Sokoto, you mobilise the army there, and chase them out, they move to Kebbi, from Kebbi if they are bombed, they move to Kaduna. What should be done is to bomb them from the air, ground, troops on the ground at the same time in all five, six states of the North West plus Niger. And this problem can be sorted out in my view, in weeks. I believe the levels of insecurity now are at a tipping point and something is got to give. My hope is that what will give is the end of this banditry once and for all. It is a problem.”

However, Abubakar Atiku Nuhu Koko, in a statement, observed that  ” during the Vietnam War, after using Carpet bombing tactics and strategies, the Americans have failed or not succeeded in clearing the notorious Vietnam fighters well entrenched in the heavily thick Vietnam forests, they resorted to spraying the thick forests with a chemical product to defoliate the forests in order to clear and expose the thick forests for them to target bombed the hidden camps of the fighters.:

” But the Chemical Orange is also toxic to humans and the environment; resulting in monumental collateral damages to the innocent civilians, animals and the environment; including rivers and streams.”

He said carpet bombing “is equally very expensive that the Nigerian government cannot afford, plus the fact it is going to involve too much human and animal collateral damages and is very harmful to the environment.”

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