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North-West insecurity may affect elections, if not stopped – El-Rufai

By Esther Akaa

Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai has warned that the 2023 election may be affected if the security situation in the North-West region of the country is not handled properly.

El-Rufai, gave the warning on Friday at the presentation of the state’s security reports for the 2nd & 3rd quarters of 2022, held at Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, Kaduna.

According to him, the insurgency in the North-West was not only more serious than what exists now in the North-East, but presents a clear danger to the holding of the 2023 elections and census if not nipped in the bud now.

He said that the region, requires a vital, comprehensive and consistent operation that will sweep across the North-West and Niger states for sustained success.

El-Rufai, therefore, called on the Federal Government to sustain its effort to promptly address the needs of security agencies for modern technology, advanced armaments, equipment, among others to help end security in the country.

According to him, there was need for the FG to vigorously exercise its constitutional powers and urgently spearhead a national effort by providing modern technology, advanced armaments, equipment and more boots on ground to the State Security Service (SSS), military and police to strengthen the security forces.

He noted however, that the security challenges in his state was gradually improving due to continued collaboration between government and security agencies, but there was need to do more to secure lives and property of citizens.

The governor explained that figures show that there was a reduction in the gravity of security incidents in the second and third quarters of 2022, compared to the first quarter in the state, which he said was a result of intensified offensive security operations against bandits carried out in the last few months.

“We publish these reports in fulfilment of our obligation to the residents of this state. Citizens have legitimate expectations to be provided with consistently accurate accounts of what is going on and to be updated on the measures being taken to address the security challenge.

“We have just seen the presentation made by Samuel Aruwan, our Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs. In stark terms, it demonstrates the continued severity of the security challenges and the unfortunate toll in killings, kidnappings, injuries and threats to the livelihoods of our people. We regret the pain and losses. We pray for the repose of the souls of those killed, pay tribute to the victims of various crimes and reiterate our solidarity with them.

“We have for years called for a comprehensive and sustained assertion of the prerogatives of the state, through combined air and ground military and police operations. This is the most effective way to protect our people, uphold law and order and enhance the ability of our people to the peaceful pursuit of their livelihoods,” the governor said.

The governor, therefore, called for a North-West Theatre Command, which according to him will enable a holistic approach to counter-insurgency operations across the affected states.

El-Rufai, appreciated the FG for finally authorising the launch of military and police offensives aimed uprooting criminals even as he commended the security agencies military and for their efforts so far.

“For us, that is the abiding lesson of the security operations that were launched in 2015/2016, as a collaboration between the states in the area and the Federal Government. The initial success that operation recorded in the Kamuku-Kuyambana forest ranges was not consolidated through continuous operations, and the criminal elements were thus able to recover, regroup and resume.

“That lesson and the continued nature of the cross-state operations of these criminals informs the view of the Kaduna State Government that a Theatre Command, similar to the one in place in the North-East, is required. Effective security operations in the seven states of the North-West and Niger State which have continuous and contiguous forest ranges, require this approach,” he said.

He also called for an enhanced coordination of the resources of the Armed Forces, the Police, the State Security Services (SSS), State Vigilance Services, hunters and other local volunteers to fight the insurgents.

The governor said that he will continue to do everything within his powers to enhance security of the people, saying that the state government has invested  resources and energy in managing security to the extent that the constitution permits it.

He said: “Our interventions since 2015 include supporting the federal security agencies deployed in our state with vehicles and other logistics, collaborating with other frontline states to fund military operations in the 2015-2016 period and investments in security infrastructure and technology.

“The lessons learnt in the 2016-2019 period informed our decision to establish the first sub-national Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs at the beginning of our second-term in 2019.

“The mandate of the Ministry is to manage the state government’s relationship with the federal security agencies deployed in the state and to coordinate their activities towards securing our people in an atmosphere of unprecedented challenges. This entails building strong relationships with these agencies. Through the Ministry, the state is deepening intelligence gathering from communities. It also runs the 24-hour Security Operations Room.

‘”But the extent of interventions in security by the State Government can do is constitutionally limited.”

The governor, while responding to some of the issues raised by some security officers and members of the Security Council, especially about
political thuggery as the general  elections approach said political actors will be profiled, their thugs mapped and bring to justice.

El-Rufai further stated that those engaged in propagating injurious falsehood and incitement will also be vigorously prosecuted and convicted if caught.

He, therefore, urged traditional rulers and community leaders to intensify efforts at identifying informants, black spots for the sale of drugs, and those that destroy critical infrastructure in the state.

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