“There will be collateral damage, but it’s better to wipe them out and get people back to our communities,” says Mr El-Rufai
aduna Governor Nasir El-Rufai has proposed for a blanket bombing of forests in the North to flush out bandits, saying “collateral damage” was expected to ending banditry.
“I’ve always believed that, you know, we should carpet-bomb the forests; we can replant the trees after,” Mr El-Rufai said in an interview with Arise TV on Monday.
“Let’s carpet-bomb the forests and bomb all of them. There will be collateral damage, but it’s better to wipe them out and get people back to our communities so that agriculture and rural economics can pick up.”
Collateral damage refers to civilian casualties in military operations, suggesting that Mr El-Rufai was asking the military to expect the loss of innocent Nigerian lives in flushing out bandits from northern forests.
Mr El-Rufai once threatened foreign observers during Nigeria’s 2019 general elections that they’ll return to their countries in body bags if they meddle in the process.
Further speaking during the interview, Mr El-Rufai said Nigerian security agencies have been overstretched due to various security challenges in the country.
“These bandits operate in the periphery because their hiding place is in the forest. It’s a major problem. The security agencies are doing their best but they are overstretched,” the governor said.
“The reality is we don’t have enough boots on the ground to address the myriad of security challenges that we face, and these security challenges are asymmetric, widespread, and there’s no part of Nigeria that doesn’t have one security problem or the other,” he added.
Before now, Mr El-Rufai claimed that he had written to President Muhammadu Buhari, requesting that bandits be declared terrorists so Nigerian military can deal with them without recourse to human rights abuses.
In November 2021, the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court declared them terrorists.