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09/10/2022 Nigeria (International Christian Concern) – In a memo to Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari earlier this year, Kaduna State governor Nasir El-Rufai was forced to admit that terrorists have only strengthened their grip on his state during his seven-year governorship. A terror group known as Ansaru, has effectively taken control of the Birnin Gwari area of northwestern Kaduna State. Formerly part of Boko Haram, the group is now said to have ties to al-Qaeda.

In his memo, El-Rufai explained to Buhari how Ansaru had created a sort of parallel government that his administration is powerless to combat. In one show of its power, Ansaru recently banned residents of Birnin Gwari from participating in political activities related to the 2023 presidential and gubernatorial elections. Last year, the terrorists blocked census-taking in nine out of the eleven wards under its control.

President Mohammadu Buhari was elected in 2015 on promises to end the threat posed by terrorists and bandits. He has seen some success on this front in the years since and even declared victory over the Boko Haram terror group at one point. In light of a recent resurgence, though, he walked those comments back, quietly declaring a renewed state of emergency and releasing the heads of his armed forces for failing to end the violence.

El-Rufai’s concern over these terrorist activities represents an interesting change of tone over the course of his governorship. Earlier, he boasted about finding terrorists and paying them to compensate them for supposed losses they had sustained rather than bringing them to justice. More recently, he has advocated for indiscriminate bombings to eradicate the terrorists.

El-Rufai has a troubling history of fueling religious tension. El-Rufai even claimed, in a tweet posted on September 8, 2014, that Christians were behind Boko Haram, funding and controlling it “to tarnish the name of Islam.” In his tweet, he specifically accused the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and other Christians of being behind specific church bombings and shootings. Far from a front for CAN, Boko Haram is an Islamist terror group with strong ties to Islamic State.

In the days leading up to his 2019 reelection, El-Rufai whipped up public anger and physical violence when he falsely claimed that 130 Fulani had been killed in Kajuru, a locality near the capital city of Kaduna. The Fulani are a Muslim-majority ethnic group. Many, including the National Emergency Management Agency and El Rufai’s own Commissioner of Police, denied his claims of an attack on the Fulani. In fact, eleven native Catholics were killed in Kajuru a few days before his comments. Suspected Fulani militants killed 127 people in Kajuru in what were presumably reprisal attacks in the month following El Rufai’s statement.

In 2012, El-Rufai threatened anyone who might challenge the Fulani, even in the line of military duty. “We will write this for all to read. Anyone, soldier or not, that kills the Fulani takes a loan payable one day no matter how long it takes,” he tweeted. When he took office as governor in 2015, he said that “the Fulani have nothing to fear, since a Fulani [is] now governor of the state.”

ICC wrote a report exposing his pattern of putting entire communities under house arrest for protesting the egregious security situation in the state. Repeatedly, these house arrest orders have preceded further attacks by militants. The recent report also discusses El-Rufai’s wealth, including previously unknown activities in Canada.

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