… Says those doubting the killings are “grossly irresponsible”

[Ishaku Yohanna]

The Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufa’i said on Tuesday that the death toll in Kajuru Local Government Area was 130 and not 66, which he earlier said.

The Governor had, last Friday; raised the alarm that unknown gunmen had killed 66 persons in the area.

But, briefing journalists in Abuja after the security meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari, el-Rufa’i said that based on the security briefings he has received, the actual number of those killed was 130 and not 66, while also describing those doubting the killings as “grossly irresponsible.”

He said: “I think that anybody that is still questioning whether these attacks took place or not is being grossly irresponsible. I think as the governor of the state, and everyone knows me and my records of public service, I would not be irresponsible enough to stand before the media and say something has happened that has not happened. I don’t work based on telephone calls for rumours.

“As governor of the state, the first thing I receive every morning is a security briefing on what happens in the last 24 hours. That is the first thing I read and I ask questions and I work on the basis of security briefings from the experts, the Garrison Commander, the commissioner of police, the head of the air force. We have every security agency in Kaduna state and they send me briefings including the DSS. I work only on that basis.

“Anybody that wants to contradict what I said should have superior information and it is impossible for you other than the president of the country to have superior information that I have about my state. So, people are being grossly irresponsible. I don’t know what their agenda is. But I know there is a prevailing narrative in the Nigerian media that only certain lives are more important than others. We see that clearly in the slant of reporting and the denial.”

Governor el-Rufa’i also said relatives of the victims have already provided the state government with the names of those killed, and said the names will be released to the media.

The security meeting was convened to discuss the resurgence of insecurity in Kaduna, Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States, and attended by the governors of the affected states, and security chiefs.

The Kaduna State Commissioner of Police, Ahmad Abdulrahman, who also attended the briefing, said eight persons were earlier arrested.

“We intended prosecuting those arrested today but as we speak three more are arrested. We want to do the needful before taking them to court,” he said.

Recall that on Friday, the eve of the earlier scheduled general election, the Governor had said that 66 persons were killed by unknown attackers, a report many had doubted.

Professor Chidi Odinkalu, former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), had queried the casualty figure released by the state government over the crisis.

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) also said it was false.

But, a statement issued by his spokesman, Samuel Aruwan, two days later (Sunday), said: “Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai has visited the scenes of the Kajuru killings. The Governor was accompanied on the trip by Major-General Faruk Yahaya, GOC 1 Division of the Nigerian Army, Air Cmdr. I. Sani of the Nigerian Air Force, Police Commissioner, Ahmad Abdurrahman and State Director of the SSS, A.I. Koya. The chairman of Kajuru local government council, Cafra Caino, also joined the governor on the visit.

“The Kaduna State Government notes the concerted and apparently coordinated efforts by bigoted busy bodies to deny the Kajuru killings, or to minimise the casualty figures, and the specious arguments being deployed in this despicable quest. The Kaduna State Government condemns in the strongest terms attempts to politicise the killings.

“Only irresponsible and insensitive people can recklessly dismiss the deaths of members of a community with whom they have no contact. Private individuals and unelected actors cannot be allowed to reduce weighty matters of state security to the province of their limited networks, inexperienced lenses and narrow agendas.

“The government of a state cannot be detained by parochial, ethno-religious, partisan or electoral calculations from doing its duty to provide security, confirm incidents of security breaches, take steps to reassure affected communities and ensure that perpetrators are arrested and brought to justice.”