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KADUNA: We had plan to bombard bandits before Afaka students’ release, says el-Rufai

GOVERNOR Nasir el-Rufai has confessed that he was contemplating bombarding the hideout of the bandits who kidnapped students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Afaka, before they were eventually released by their abductors, even though that meant risking the lives of the students.

El-Rufai stated this yesterday during a webinar organised by the Africa Leadership Group after the remaining 29 students who were still in captivity safely arrived the state after their release, adding that the state is currently at war and the death of the students would have been considered as collateral damage, a price he was willing to pay instead of paying ransom to the bandits.

He however, said before the planned bombardment could be carried out, the bandits hurriedly changed location which led to the students spending over a month in captivity.

While responding to a question at the webinar tagged: ‘Developing a Viable Nation 2’ and hosted by Pastor of Trinity House Church, Ituah Ighodalo, El-Rufai said his refusal to negotiate with bandits was based on his conviction that paying ransom would only encourage them to carry out more attacks and abductions.

“Two days after the abduction of the Afaka young people, I was assured by the air force and the army that they knew where the kidnappers were with the students and they had encircled them.

“We were going to attack them. We would lose a few students but we would kill all the bandits and we would recover some of the students. That was our plan. That was the plan of the air force and the army. But they slipped through the cordon of the army. That is why they were not attacked.

“We know it is risky; we know in the process, we may lose some of the abductees but it is a price we have to pay. This is war, there will always be collateral damage in war and we will rather do that than pay money because paying money has not solved the problem anywhere in the world.”

He said that he had lost weight over the insecurity in the state which was giving him sleepless nights, but however, claimed that insecurity in Kaduna was not as bad as what was being experienced in neighbouring states like Niger, Katsina and Zamfara, though the media only focused attention on his state because it fitted into their narrative of ethnic clashes.

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