The petit governor of Kaduna state, with a big ego, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, has shown himself incapable of saving Kaduna State from self-destruct. El-Rufai, who thrust into national limelight while serving assiduously as the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, obviously lacks the dexterity to govern a multi-ethnic and multi-religious state, like Kaduna. An otherwise intelligent man, especially with mapping infrastructural development, he has proved himself bereft of the emotional intelligence necessary for managing a fractious state with ethnic fault lines.
While the inter-ethnic crisis in Southern Kaduna predates El-Rufai, he has worsened the situation with his petulant arrogance and debilitating idiosyncrasies. Unfortunately, he has an ally in President Muhammadu Buhari, who is slow to react to matters of urgent national importance. With pressure from the international community, perhaps those kneeling on the necks of the indigenes of Southern Kaduna can be forced up and brought to account at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at Hague.
El-Rufai’s latest gaffe that leaders of Southern Kaduna are asking for money to stop the violence is absurd, and deserves an investigation by the excitable Department of State Security (DSS). If non-state actors like Obadiah Mailafiya and former Speaker House of Representatives Ghali Umar Na’Abba, can be questioned for making statement on national security issues, the allegation by El-Rufai deserves similar investigation unless he names those asking for money and provide proof.
Earlier on, the governor had asked any traditional ruler in Southern Kaduna who claims that the armed herdsmen were appropriating their lands after sacking their communities to come forward with proof. Such demand begs the question, because appropriation of land can’t be the only reason for the mindless killings that is taking place in the region. Otherwise what is the motive for the mass killings, insane destruction of properties and dislocations that is the hallmark of the attacks?
With the Nigerian state incapable or unwilling to bring the perpetrators to account, there is justification to warrant the intervention of the ICC prosecutors. The ICC is an international court with “jurisdiction to prosecute individual for international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crimes of aggression.” According to Wikipedia “It is intended to complement existing national judicial systems and it may therefore exercise its jurisdiction only when national courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute criminals.”
Earlier in his administration, El-Rufai had admitted the helplessness of the Nigerian state in bringing the perpetrators to account, which necessitated his sending emissaries to the bandits and inducing them with financial rewards to stop the attacks. In an interview in 2016, the governor claimed most of the attackers where from outside Nigeria, and there were aggrieved for losses incurred while passing through Southern Kaduna, after the General Elections in 2015. He said that he had traced those concerned and begged them to forgive, while those that demanded compensation were paid.
In his words: “A lot of what was happening in Southern Kaduna was actually from outside Nigeria.” He went on: “we got a group of people that were going round trying to trace some of these people in Cameroon, Niger Republic 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 killing.”
He assured the general public that “in most of the communities, once that appeal was made to them, they said they have forgiven. There are one or two that asked for monetary compensation. They said they have forgiven the death of human beings, but want compensation for cattle. We said no problem and we paid some.” So by the governor’s account, while he was begging non-nationals to accept compensation to stop killing Nigerians, he is now accusing indigenes of his state of demanding money to stop foreigners from killing them.
The incongruity and illogic of the governor’s claims shows that as the state chief security officer, the Nigerian state has either lost the capacity to bring the perpetrators to account or are unwilling to take steps accordingly. So, perhaps the ICC should be in the best position to come to the aid of the indigenes who are at the mercy of the criminals that have turned Southern Kaduna to a killing field.
The Office of the Prosecutor (OTP), under the ICC, is an independent organ of the court, which can initiate investigation, if appropriately triggered as provided by the Rome statute. Of course, it recognises that: “National authorities bear the primary responsibility, in the first instance, to investigate and prosecute those most responsible for the commission of mass crimes. The court will initiate investigations, in accordance with the legal criteria set by the Rome statute, only when the national authorities have failed to uphold this primary responsibility and in the absence of genuine national proceedings.”
The question Governor El-Rufai and the federal government should answer is why the state authority has failed to uphold its primary responsibility of providing security for the indigenes of Southern Kaduna? Perhaps, Ghali Na’Abba provided a general answer about the status of our country, as a failing state. To make the matter worse, many argue that the Kaduna State government is partial. So, it is time to resort to the international community to save the people of Southern Kaduna.
Nigeria as a state party to the Rome Convention, having signed since September 27, 2001, is bound by the provisions of the convention. So, if the appropriate petition is made to ICC, the prosecuting authority can initiate investigating that could trigger the prosecution of those responsible for the mayhem in Southern Kaduna.
Of note, at the 18th session of the Assembly of State Parties to the Rome Statute, at the International Criminal Court, at Hague, in 2019, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, pledged the federal government’s commitment to end various acts of impunity in the country. The daily carnage in Southern Kaduna is a sad reminder that Nigeria lacks the capacity to keep its pledge and commitment.
Last Thursday, this paper provided in grim figures a glimpse of the daily atrocities in Southern Kaduna: “On 16th August, 2020 in Bugai village in Kachia LGA was attacked by armed militia. The village head, Dan’azumi Musa (67), was killed. His siblings, Aniya Musa (60), his very aged mother, Kande Musa (97) and sister Angelina Irmiya (45) were killed.” It went further: “On the 17th of August, Bulus Joseph (48) a father of nine was murdered gruesomely.” Interestingly, the ambivalence of Governor El-Rufai has been appropriately noticed by the Nigerian Bar Association, and this column urges him to make a turn around.