Gov. Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State says no fewer than 1,192 citizens of the state have been killed and 3,348 kidnapped by bandits in 2021.
El-Rufai also confirmed that 891 persons were injured and 13,623 animals rustled between January and December 2021 across the state.
The governor revealed this at the weekly media briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team on Thursday in Abuja.
He said the state government had so far spent N21 billion on logistics support to security agencies fighting bandits in the state in the last seven years.
According to him, the activities of bandits in the Northwest zone are far more serious than insurgency in the Northeast part of the country.
He noted that the number of people killed, kidnapped or injured as a result of the activities of the bandits in Katsina and Zamfara States were three times more than the affected citizens in Kaduna.
“I am persuaded that the banditry in the Northwest is far more serious than Boko Haram both in terms of the numbers of the people affected.
“I have shown you the numbers in Kaduna. I can assure you that the numbers in Zamfara and Katsina are up to three times this if they are keeping taps. The numbers in Sokoto, Niger and Kebbi States will be about this.
“We are talking of tens of thousands of people getting killed, getting kidnapped. It is far more serious than Boko Haram.
“The only thing is that these guys don’t occupy territory, they are in the forests and ungoverned spaces.
“So, they do not attract the kind of single minded attention that Boko Haram does. And because Boko Haram’s ideology is religious, intentionally religious, it elicits more passion but really, this is a far more serious problem.
“Because, this is a situation largely in which people of about the same ethnicity, same religion are killing each other, stealing each other’s property, creating an industry out of criminality.
“It’s very, very serious and it requires single minded attention.’’
El-Rufai, who stated that the locations of the bandits operating in Kaduna and other neigbouring states are known to the state government, called on relevant security agencies to urgently check the activities of the terrorists.
He, however, urged the Federal Government to provide more sophisticated weapons to security officials to enable them neutralise the bandits and other terror elements across the country.
“Yes, we know where these bandits are, we have the maps. But somebody has to go in and kill them. I can’t do that. If that somebody doesn’t have enough men, doesn’t have enough fire power, doesn’t have technology, no one is going to commit suicide.
“This is why under this administration, Nigeria’s Governors Forum collaborated with the federal government to take money from the excess crude account to buy super Tocano jets and other armaments to strengthen our defence system,’’ he added.
El-Rufai stated that the logistics support being provided by the state government was aimed at complementing the effort of the armed forces and other security agencies towards finding solutions to the security challenges troubling the state.
The governor also revealed that the state government in the last seven years had also spent N10 billion on purchases of technological gadgets and communication equipment to boost the fight against terror elements and other criminals in the state.
“In terms of capital investments, drones, safe city, radio frequency, GSM tracker, we bought our own. We don’t rely on the office of the National Security Adviser or Directorate of Security Services for that, we have ours.
“And with the forensic lab, by the time we will be done, it will be another N10-12 billion.
“We are not talking about re-imbursement but it is worth it if we are able to achieve full security in our state. We will continue to invest in it; we don’t count the cost of security we just want to achieve full human security, that is what bothers us,” he added.
On the non-kinetic measures being taken to address the security challenges, he said his administration had since established the Kaduna Peace Commission, formed a farmer-herders reconciliation committee in all local governments of the state, among others.
“Some of the security challenges that have endured in Kaduna have to do with ethnic and religious intolerance. Banditry is a new phenomenon. The one that Kaduna has been famous for is ethno-religious crisis.
“We have managed to contain that to a large extent and now the ethnic enclaves particularly in Kaduna and people now Muslims and Christians live together now because everyone feels safe.
“It will take a long time, but I think we are moving in the right direction. People need to know that every Nigerian has the right to live anywhere that he chooses in the country so long as he is law-abiding and there is beauty in diversity,” he added.
On the identity of sponsors of insurgency across the country, the governor revealed that all known financiers of activities of Boko Haram had been apprehended and taken into custody, saying they will soon be prosecuted.
“I am sure there is a reason for not naming and shaming them. Most of them (Boko Haram financiers) are in custody and they are going to be tried and you need to be very careful how much you reveal before putting them on trial.
“Virtually all of them are in custody. I can assure you that because the operation involved my state so I was being briefed as it was going on.
“We know their names and everything. They will be on trial soon and their trial is likely to be public so you will know them, but they are everywhere including Lagos and Port Harcourt, everywhere all over Nigeria.
“I was shocked to know that one of them was based in Zaria and the kind of money involved.
“I am sure there is a good reason why the Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, did not mention their names and the reasons have to do with the fact that they are going to be tried,’’ he said.
El-Rufai further maintained that despite the security challenges troubling the state, his administration had been able to deliver democratic dividends to its citizens.
He narrated the achievements of his administration to include human capital development, provision of free primary and secondary education, health sector reforms, social development, job creation and infrastructure development. (NAN)