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Terrorism: El-Rufa’i briefs Buhari, says Northwest states may resort to mercenaries to protect their people 

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From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

The Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufa’i, has threatened that if the federal government fails to speedily and decisively deal with terrorists, the northwest states of Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara, Kebbi, Sokoto and the neighbouring Niger might resort to hiring mercenaries to end the ongoing reign of terrorists within their territories.

He issued the threat in an interview conducted in the Hausa language, in the State House, Friday after he visited President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa to provide updates and inform him of possible resolve of governors of Northwest states.

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He stressed that the devastating attack on the Abuja-Kaduna train last Tuesday, which claimed eight lives, would have been avoided if the federal government heeded his earlier warnings.

El-rufai, warned that the terrorists, with the sort of arrogance and boldness they have in recent times operated, will go on to attempt to subdue the nation if the military fail to act proactively by storming their camps and hideouts in the forests, wipe them out once and for all.

He reiterated his earlier stance that security agencies, including the military, are aware of the locations and specific mappings of the terrorists, adding that the President had assured that he would take required actions and the ongoing carnage would be sorted out in a matter of months.

He revealed that the attack on the train was carried out by Boko Haram elements, contrary to the belief that the terrorists were the same bandits known to have been terrorising the entire Northwest in the last few years, adding that the attack was not a hack job, but well planned over a long period.

He said “to us, this happened because we have consistently written letters to the Nigerian Railway Corporation. We wrote them twice to stop night trips, because we had security report that Boko Haram had entered and they were planning to blow up the train, they should stop night journey. We wrote them twice, but they didn’t listen.

“Secondly, the Air Force, in response to that security report, went and established a base at Katari, where helicopters can land and refuel, so that if anything happens, they can quickly respond, but that cannot work at night because some helicopters cannot even fly at night, that is why we advised the Federal Government that, the night train should be stopped.

“We suggested that, the last trip should leave Abuja by 4:00pm, so that they can arrive Kaduna before night falls and same for last trip from Kaduna, but our advised was not taken.

“It took the security agents over an hour to get to the scene when the attack happened because it was night, it would have been faster in the afternoon.

“This attack shows that, it is not the bandits that we are used to, these ones came prepared, they have planned this attack for long, to the extent that they know the first class coach where they will get the big personalities.

“Therefore, this is a serious issue that, we have been suggesting that, these forests where these people are, we should go there and bomb the forest for everyone in the forest to be be killed. Honestly, if this is not done, this banditry in Niger, Katsina, Zamfara, Kebbi and Sokoto will not end.

“This thing can consume the entire Nigeria, because the way these people are getting money, the way they boast that they don’t fear authorities, they don’t fear military, I don’t know why up till now, the Nigerian military will not enter these forests and deal with these people.

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“Why do we always wait for them to strike before we go after them, why can’t we go to where they are and kill them? We know where they are. We have the maps as the military know, the policemen know and everyone knows. DSS is giving us report every time; see where Dogo Gide is, see what he is planning. Why is it that, up till now, the security have not gone to kill them, where are our soldiers? Why have they not done it?

“That is why I have come to see Mr President and also I have said that, if these actions are not taken, it becomes a must for us as governors to take measures to protect our citizens, even if it means we will import mercenaries from outside the country to do it, if our soldiers fail, I swear to God, we will do that. This issue has gotten to an alarming state.

“Mr President assured me that, he will take actions and that this thing will be brought to an end within months”, he said.

On the rumour of fresh attacks on Kadun-Abuja highway circulating on the social media, El-Rufai said, the rumour was being spread by political opponents and they have asked the security to investigate and prosecute them.

“Anyone that spreads false information that subject people to unnecessary fear, has violated tha laws of Kaduna state and they will be prosecuted. This is not a political matter, even their own people are being kidnapped and killed, some are wounded and in the hospital, but some people are playing politics with it. We curse those and God will judge them, but before they die firvGid to judge them, we will prosecute them here first.”

Asked whether the attack on the Kaduna Airport and the train were attempt to cripple the economy of Kaduna state, the Governor said, “it is certainly an attempt to cripple the economy of Kaduna and that of Northern Nigeria entirely. All these are only happening in the North, it is a disturbing development. All these are happening in Kaduna because people are investing in Kaduna, that is what they want to stop, they want to spoil Kaduna, which is the nerve centre of the North, nerve centre of Nigeria politics.

“Some people say they are doing it because of me, it is not because of me, they want to fight President Muhammadu Buhari, fight our party and fight the north. They want to impoverish us because of the coming election in 2023, but they will not succeed by God’s grace,” he said.

On the safety of the hostages still in the den of the terrorists, the governor said “some of the people kidnapped, their families have been contacted, while some others, were contacted to inform the families that their loved ones are being taken care off.

“But, the bandits have not indicated they want ransom, because these ones are not the normal kidnappers that people are used to. These ones are Boko Haram that worked with the bandits to carry out that attack.

“Therefore, our thinking is that, maybe they want to negotiate ransom with government, not victim’s families.

“Now, the security agents are busy trying to locate them. And by God’s grace, they will round them up and carry out the necessary action.

“You know, government is always considering lives of the hostages, if the victims are not recovered from them, I don’t think the military will carry out any serious action.

“When asked whether Kaduna government will pay ransom or stand its initial ground, he said, Kaduna State government does not pay ransom and we will not pay.”

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