Governor El-Rufai’s self-confessed compensation of Fulani herdsmen oversteps his duties

Paying the Enemy 
 Editorial of the Nation Newspaper of 8 December 2016

•Governor El-Rufai’s self-confessed compensation of Fulani herdsmen oversteps his duties

The Kaduna State Governor,  Nasir El Rufai, raised some dust when he confessed that he spent government money to pay Fulani herdsmen to stop violence in southern Kaduna. The assertion was made by the government to justify his position that the recent wave of violence on the citizens of southern Kaduna did not come from the Fulani herdsmen but that they were perpetrated by mere bands of hoodlums.

To make that confession shows that the governor does not know the limits of his gubernatorial powers. Although he can argue that he used the state funds from the security votes – but he has not said that – to keep peace in the state, he ought to understand that his powers are limited to actions within Kaduna state.

He said the hoodlums came from outside the country and he even sent emissaries with funds to placate the criminals in their own countries.

Hear him: “We got a group of people that were going round trying to trace some of these people in Cameroon, Niger and so on to tell them that there is a new governor who is Fulani like them and has no problem paying compensations for lives lost and he is begging them to stop the killing.”

He said further that after his messengers had reached the Fulanis, “they said they have forgiven the deaths of the human beings, but wanted compensation for the cattle. We said no problem and we paid some.”

There is nothing wrong in trying to put an end to a spate of barbaric killings of fellow human beings. In fact, such efforts highlight not only the humanity of the chief executive but also the constitutional responsibility. But what Governor El Rufai did went beyond his brief as governor of Kaduna State.

First, any matter that involves foreign nationals is the constitutional prerogative of the federal government. Governor El Rufai said that the hoodlums who inflicted pain and tragedy in southern Kaduna were from “Niger,  Cameroon, Mali and Senegal, Fulanis from 14 African countries and they traverse this country with cattle.”

Is this not a matter for the foreign affairs department? As a governor, it is not his duty to placate criminals who come to Nigeria to foment trouble. It is his duty to identify them and subject them to the law within this country if they are caught and arrested.

It is clear he identified them in their foreign places, according to the report of the committee led by Gen. Martin Luther Agwai (rtd). If they were identified, was it not his duty to pay them or report them to their countries as interlopers and who commit murderer in our land?

At a time when impunity has been condemned in all its dimensions, it is unacceptable for a governor to move into a foreign land and act as the representative of state rather than work under the rubric of a federal government.

Since he is sure that these men did the havoc in southern Kaduna, it is not too late to follow the due process and report them to the federal government, although he seems certain they have stopped the killings.

His assertion that his compensation now exculpates them from the violence in southern Kaduna without any arrests or convictions or even confessions from the culprits is a leap of faith. He linked the killings with that of Zamfara State. El Rufai peddled excuses without evidence. We still need to know the hoodlums before clear-cut blames can be assigned.

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