After visiting the President, Muhammadu Buhari, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, to update him on the happenings since the Monday night train attack, the Kaduna Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, vowed to hire foreign mercenaries to fight terrorists following the Monday night attack on a Kaduna-bound train.
He also stated that four others of the seven Northwestern states – Katsina, Zamfara, Kebbi, Sokoto – may join him to hire foreign mercenaries if the Federal Government does not end the ongoing spate of terror attacks in the region.
“Why is it that up till now, the security has not gone to kill them? Where are our soldiers? Why have they not done it? That is why I have come to see Mr President. And, I have said that if these actions are not taken, it becomes a must for us as governors to take measures to protect our citizens, even if it means we will import mercenaries from outside the country to do it. If our soldiers fail, I swear to God, we will do that. This issue has gotten to an alarming state,” he said.
He mentioned that the Kaduna train attack, which left eight passengers dead and several others injured, would have been avoided if the federal government had heeded his earlier warnings.
On the identity of the assailants, El-Rufai said the train attack was not done by the terrorists known as bandits who have been roaming the Northwest for a few years now, but by Boko Haram members.
He said, “To us, this happened because we have consistently written letters to the Nigerian Railway Corporation. We wrote them twice to stop night trips because we had a security report that Boko Haram had entered and they were planning to blow up the train. We wrote to them twice but they didn’t listen.
“Secondly, the Air Force, in response to that security report, went and established a base at Katari, where helicopters can land and refuel so that if anything happens, they can quickly respond. But that cannot work at night because some helicopters cannot even fly at night. That is why we advised the Federal Government that the night train should be stopped.
“We suggested that the last trip should leave Abuja by 4:00 pm so that they could arrive in Kaduna before nightfall and the same for the last trip from Kaduna, but our advice was not taken. It took the security agents over an hour to get to the scene when the attack happened because it was night. It would have been faster in the afternoon.”
On the response of the Northwest to the attacks he said, “We have been suggesting that these forests where these people are, we should go there and bomb the forests for everyone in the forest to be killed. Honestly, if this is not done, this banditry in Niger, Katsina, Zamfara, Kebbi and Sokoto will not end.
“This thing can consume the entire Nigeria, because the way these people are getting money, the way they boast that they don’t fear authorities, they don’t fear the military, I don’t know why up till now the Nigerian military will not enter these forests and deal with these people.”
Earlier in the week, the governor of Kaduna admitted that the Nigerian authorities know the camps, and the identities and listen to the conversations of the armed groups that are terrorising large swaths of the North-west region.
“We know where their camps are. We know their camps, we have the maps; we know everything. We have their phone numbers and listen to their conversation sometimes. But it has to be done across the five states,” he said.
El-Rufai also noted that if the military takes no proactive response, he would hire mercenaries to do the job.
“Why is it that up till now, the security operatives have not gone to kill them? Where are our soldiers? Why have they not done it? That is why I have come to see Mr President.
Bottomline: It is days after the Kaduna train attack, and the kidnapped Nigerian citizens have not been found, neither is there information that their location has been found – only that the families of the kidnapped persons have been contacted.
Also, does Nigeria really need mercenaries before these armed groups are decimated?