Hardball News Update

El-Rufai’s headache

El-Rufai’s headache

Hardball

It was nice of the nasty bandits who kidnapped the 85-year-old Emir of Kajuru in Kaduna State, Alhaji Alhassan Adamu, on July 11, that they released him after spending a night in captivity.  Sadly, 13 others kidnapped with him, described as his family members, are still in captivity. The kidnappers had demanded a N200 million ransom.

Interestingly, the emir was said to have been released without paying a ransom. Also interesting is that the kidnappers were said to have asked for forgiveness before handing over the emir to his relatives and members of the emirate council.

One of those who received the emir was quoted as saying the kidnappers were represented by three men, heavily armed and in military uniform.  “We couldn’t believe it. We stood there looking at them while they apologised, saying they had not felt at ease since they abducted him. They told us to go with him while negotiations for the other 13 people will continue…” he said.  It is unclear whether the kidnappers released the emir so quickly and without ransom payment because of his status or age, or both.

The abduction of the emir and his family members was yet another kidnap case in the state where kidnapping has happened too frequently in recent months.  “We have a feeling that the renewed attacks in Kaduna are not unconnected to the position that we have taken as a government that we will not negotiate with criminals,” Governor Nasir El-Rufai said in April, insisting that his administration “will not give them any money.”

If it is true that bandits are trying to test the state government’s no-ransom-payment policy, then the governor should be prepared for more kidnappings. It isn’t enough to say his administration won’t pay ransom. What is his administration doing to tackle kidnapping in the state? If there is no kidnapping for ransom, there will be no ransom demand, and no need to pay ransom.

A day after the emir’s release, the Kaduna State government presented an alarming security report showing that 222 persons were killed in the state in the last three months as a result of banditry and other violent crimes. According to the report, 774 people were kidnapped in the same period. The report also showed that bandits were collecting “protection levies” from farmers in communities across 12 local government areas of the state for permission to go to their farms and cultivate their fields. “This has already begun to affect crop yields, and the threat of food insecurity looms large,” the report said.

El-Rufai has his work cut out. He needs to be told that it will take more than his stance against ransom payment to deal with escalating banditry and kidnapping under his administration.


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