GOVERNOR Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State defended the federal government’s recent clampdown on Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Igboho saying they are separatists and the same treatment cannot be meted out to Fulani herdsmen because they are not secessionists.
Over the last few days, the Nigerian government has stepped up attacks on its perceived opponents, abducting Mr Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (Ipob) from Kenya and arraying him in court. Sunday Adeyemo, popularly known as Igboho, leader of the group Yoruba Nation, also had his home visited by soldiers yesterday.
In a sure sign that the gloves have now come off, Mr Kanu was abducted in Sunday and by Tuesday, when it appeared that the effect of the drugs used on him had worn off, he was arraigned in court. Mr Igboho’s home was raided by soldiers who killed two of his aides and arrested a further 13, who will now be charged to court.
This clampdown has attracted widespread condemnation from civil rights groups who have accused the government of using extra-judicial means to go after its opponents. To make matters worse for the government, it has not gone after Fulani herdsmen, kidnappers, armed bandits and even terrorists with the same gusto.
Defending this perceived partiality, Governor El-Rufai said the way bandits and Boko Haram terrorists operate is different from that of Ipob. Speaking to BBC Pidgin, Governor El-Rufai stated that bandits are not calling for the breakup of Nigeria but are just carrying out their activities as a form of business, adding that unlike Ipob, the bandits have no centralised leadership.
Governor El-Rufai said: “I was very happy when Nnamdi Kanu was arrested because, first he jumped bail, jeopardising his sureties. Secondly, he is a person that challenges the sovereignty and the authority of a state and incites violence.
“He refers to his own country as a zoo. This should be a message to all these separatists challenging the authority of the Nigerian State to be very careful.”
Asked if Boko Haram and bandits should be treated with the same swiftness that led to Kanu’s arrest, Governor El-Rufai said people are comparing apples to oranges. According to the governor, banditry is nothing more than commercial activity and cannot be compared with a campaign calling for the balkanisation of Nigeria.
Governor El-Rufai added: “Nnamdi Kanu is the leader of Ipob, a proscribed organisation. He is identifiable, in constant communication and everyone knows where he is.
“Let’s take Boko Haram for instance, Shekau was in hiding and for the past 10 years and the military had been waging a war to get him. It is not like Shekau was in Saudi Arabia, sitting in one place, tweeting about the breakup of Nigeria or asking Boko Haram to go and kill Helen and Nasir el-Rufai.
“Nnamdi Kanu is in one place while Shekau is waging guerrilla warfare but the insurgency is still going on and the federal government is not giving up. Regarding bandits, they are not centralised under one leadership. Who is the head of the bandits? Who is the equivalent of Nnamdi Kanu with banditry?
“Bandits are just collections of independent criminals. It is a business for them, it is not a case of Nigeria must break up. I want to challenge anyone to tell me the central leader of bandits in the same position as Kanu.”