Why I supported ransom payment in 2014 but backtracked now: El-rufai

Governor Nasir El-rufai of Kaduna State said he supported ransom payment to kidnappers because he taught that was the best way to tackle the situation at the time.

Mr El-rufai who was in the opposition camp in 2014 granted an interview calling on the administration of former president Goodluck Jonathan to negotiate with Boko Haram terrorists who kidnapped over two hundred schoolgirls in Chibok.

That interview is now been circulated by his detractors who said he is a hypocrite for now towing the part of the Jonathan administration which refused to negotiate with the terrorists to get the victims freed.

At the early stage of his administration, he paid money to Fulani herdsmen that were causing havoc in some parts of the state but as insecurity worsened, his administration backtracked and has now chosen to use force against the criminals.

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Five students of Greenfield university in the state abducted last week have been killed with their abductors threatening to kill the remaining students in their custody should the government continue its grandstanding by refusing to pay them N800million as ransom.

Denying being a hypocrite in a statement by his spokesman, Muyiwa Adekeye, on Tuesday, the Kaduna helmsman said experiences gathered from negotiations with kidnappers made him backtracked and resolved that going after them was the best way to tackle the situation.

“Amidst the violence unleashed by criminal elements on the people of Kaduna State, some commentators have responded by blaming KDSG for asserting that the duty of the state is to uphold the law and not to reward hoodlums for violating the lives, property and liberties of citizens,” Mr Adekeye said.

“Those pushing that kind of narrative are sharing a video clip of a 2014 interview in which Malam Nasir El-Rufai called on the government of President Goodluck Jonathan to use all options, including negotiation, to rescue the Chibok girls. The years since 2014 may have led some people to forget the denial and doubt that defined the FG’s response to the Chibok abductions, especially the initial refusal to acknowledge that it happened. That was the context under which civic pressures were brought on the government.

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“Nigeria’s journey since the 2014 Chibok tragedy has proven that the solution to violent crimes, including terrorism and banditry, is a robust response from the state and its coercive agencies. The quantum of money paid as ransom following many negotiations with bandits have not stopped kidnappings, reduced their frequency or deterred the criminals.

“The experience of many states in the Northwest of Nigeria since 2015 has included cattle rustling, kidnappings, killings and the devastation of communities by criminals. Several states sought to negotiate their way out of the problems by talking to bandits, paying them money or offering them amnesty.

“This has not worked and has only encouraged the criminals to press ahead for a surrender of the public treasury to them. That is clearly not in the public interest. 

“Mass abduction was like in novelty in 2014. But the facts have changed since then. Negotiations and ransoms have been undertaken, but these have not stopped the criminals. It has only encouraged them. It is only prudent to review one’s position when the facts change, and the suggestion made by a citizen years ago cannot be taken as the immutable answer to a serious problem which has evolved since 2014, no matter the viral replays of the said video clip.

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“The Kaduna State Government has been consistently transparent about its security challenges. It has supported and continues to resource the security agencies in the state. We are engaging the Federal Government to have security responses that move away from reactive response of repelling bandits towards a comprehensive, proactive offensive that takes the battle to the criminals and uproots them. As a sub-national, with no direct control of any of the security agencies, we cannot make this task more difficult by giving criminals the resources to acquire more arms. 

“KDSG regrets the  recent kidnaps and killings of students from tertiary institutions in our state, and we sympathize with their families with whom we share the aim of the safe return of all the  students. We mourn the dead students and we offer our condolences to the family and friends of the deceased. The ruthless and heartless resort of the kidnappers to murdering these young persons is part of their effort to further their blackmail and compel us to abandon our ‘no-ransom, no-negotiation’ policy. Are people bothering with the consequences of state surrender to hoodlums, or is the continued politicization of security challenges not going to make all of us ultimately victims of the insurgents?

“The fact that criminals seek to hold us by the jugular does not mean we should surrender and create an incentive for more crime. In today’s Nigeria, it has become fashionable to treat the unlawful demands of bandits as worthy of consideration and to lampoon people who insist that outlaws should be crushed and not mollycoddled or availed the resources they can use to unleash further outrages,” the spokesman added.

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