09/18/2022 Nigeria (International Christian Concern) – Speaking at the Kaduna Book and Art festival earlier this week, Kaduna State governor Nasir El-Rufai made reference to a six-week military offensive against terrorists in the state. The last several years of his tenure have been marked by increased insecurity, and as he approaches the end of his governorship — he hits his term limit next year — El-Rufai is eager to highlight any success.
“In the last six weeks, there has been improved offensive operation against criminals,” he said, according to Punch Newspaper, a Nigerian outlet. “We are confident if it is sustained, people can drive comfortably without any security or take the train to Kaduna.” The ability to drive safely and take the train, once assumed, has become a dangerous undertaking after a string of incidents over the last several years, including a high-profile mass kidnapping on the train between Abuja and Kaduna earlier this year.
El-Rufai’s comments bear a tinge of irony, given his sordid history of compliance with terrorists in Kaduna and his years-long pattern of putting protesting communities under mass house arrest while attackers lurk nearby. His community-wide lockdowns have led to hundreds of deaths over his tenure.
His 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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