By TAJUDEEN SULEIMAN
What do you think is responsible for the attack on the state by Boko Haram?
We don’t want to speculate on those behind the attacks or the reasons for their attack. We believe this is the job of our security agencies, and I’m sure they will tell us those responsible after their investigations. Up till now we are yet to confirm exactly those who are responsible for these attacks. Unless the security agencies conclude their investigations, it is very difficult now to speculate as to who exactly did what and why they did what they did.
We understand that Boko Haram circulated leaflets warning the state government that it would attack Kano if their members in detention were not released. Were you aware they were going to strike?
We were not aware of any arrest made by anybody, and in any case, there were so many letters flying around and you don’t really know who the authors were. But what we do know from our own end is that the state government has not arrested anybody. In any case, the state government has no agency charged with the arrest of people. It is the police, the State Security Services and the military that have such mandate.
But as the chief security officer of the state, you are expected to know about these kinds of things.
Of course I am the chief security officer, but the police don’t take directives from me to go and do what they have to do. I actually heard that information sometimes ago and I made it clear that Kano State government never arrested anybody. And we did ask the security agencies in the state and indeed in the country to release any person who was not found guilty of any offence. I also said that anybody found to have committed any offence should be charged to court.
There have been attacks against the Government House since you returned as governor of Kano State, and now we had the violence of January 20. Does this have anything to do with the character of your administration?
You see, the attack on Government House on January 9, 2011 had to do with the character of our opponents. When I lost the election in 2003, we never allowed our supporters to even loiter around the government House, not to talk of organising them to attack the Government House. We never allowed our supporters to do anything to embarrass the state and the government because I am a believer in democracy. In 2003 when I left government, I went to congratulate Governor Shekarau in his private residence. I went with all the members of my cabinet at that time and my deputy governor. Later, I held series of meetings with politicians, the Ulamas and other stakeholders, during which I asked that the incoming administration should be supported, and I left the scene for the next eight years. That is democracy. After eight years, here I am again in Government House, Kano. The attack on the Government House on January 9 was organised by our opponents. They broke the Government House fence. We know Kano very well. We were born and brought up here in Kano. Our parents and great-grandparents were Kano people. So, in Kano things don’t just happen like that. If we had wanted, we would have broken the Government House fence one million times when we were outside government. There are those who believe that they are super human beings, they think they can do miracles and that they are different from you and me, people who think that whatever they imagine before they go to bed, they will wake up and see it done. People who attempted to bring in a new religion to Kano. So, the attack had to do with the machinations of our opponents. They know it as much as we do. We have been in the business even before them and we know how it goes. I didn’t create or remove the subsidy on oil to warrant the attack on Government House on January 9. That was the business of the federal government.
Many people see the activities of Boko Haram as a danger to the corporate existence of the country because it is giving the impression that the North wants a country of its own.
I will be frank with you; these are very difficult times for all of us. But every period has its challenges. When civil rule returned in 1999, we had challenges of that time. That was when people from the North living in the South were being killed either in Sagamu or Lagos or East. We had so many cases where people were bringing corpses from that part of the country for burial back home in the North, and vice versa. We had many problems. These leaders at the time were able to overcome the challenges of that period. Now today, we have our own challenges. Now we have got this issue on our hands. I think what is important is for all the leaders across the country to show serious
understanding of the circumstances. Secondly, people should be talking and looking for areas where this problem, like all other challenges before now, is sorted out. I personally believe that it is possible to sort out this problem and allow Nigeria to make progress. This is the time people should avoid bringing politics into this particular issue. We have had situation here in the past where so many people were killed, many of them from Kano, some from other states in the North, others from the South. Many of those who were killed, in fact if not all of them had no idea of what was happening. What we need now is to put our hands together to work in the interest of the country.
Residents of Kano still live in fear. What are you doing to assure the safety of lives and property?
Our government is a responsible government, and our primary responsibility is to protect all lives. Let me tell you, the recent attacks had nothing to do with Christians or Muslims. I want to inform you that we had more Muslims killed than Christians that were killed in the attacks. You have more indigenes of Kano who were killed than people of other ethnic nationalities. We are working round-the-clock to ensure that the state is secure and that lives of all the people living in Kano are protected as much as we can. We are working seriously to ensure peace in Kano State, and by the grace of God I want to assure you that we have seen first and the last of these attacks in Kano State. Kano will not explode again.