Senator Kabir Marafa is the Senator representing the Zamfara Central Senatorial district and also the Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream). In this interview with the Informavores National Assembly Correspondent, Michael Shaibu Senator Kabir Marafa laments the spates of killings in Zamfara state and also expressed concern on how the state was not given adequate attention over the security malaise, adding that the state Governor who is the statutory Chief Security officer still remain helpless.
What is your take on the recent kidnappings in zamfara state, and what is the solution?
It is quite unfortunate we have said it times without number, we raised it on the floor of the Senate but one thing I will say is that as Nigerians, we need to take the Nigerian project more seriously because to me, it seems we have many nations within a nation. A situation where something is happening to one section of the country, it becomes an issue but if it is happening to another section of the country, the whole thing is swept under the carpet. The situation in Zamfara is quite unfortunate and I think it requires the attention of all and sundry. Everybody need to be concern about what is happening there, but unfortunately it is not given the priority it deserves. Killings and kidnappings have become the order of the day in Zamfara.It’s happening every day and every hour and almost everywhere.
The only exception may be is the state capital where you can say has not recorded casualty, but almost all the local government are now under siege. Like I said, it is quite unfortunate because we tend to look at issues from very narrow point of view in the sense that we don’t as a people situate ourselves in the condition of what other Nigerians are going through. So it requires a serious attention. Now having said that, I have raised it several times on the floor of the Senate and to bring it to the attention of the world and to all Nigerians that there is complete collapse of government in zamfara state. I mean total collapse, it is quite sad and unfortunate that after repeated calls and receiving condemnation that the governor had to come out and admit it to the extent of resigning ignorantly his role as the chief security officer of a state and I had reason to say that I didn’t hear the voice of many Nigerians to that unfortunate incidence.
For a sitting Governor who is taking and spending security votes, coming out to say he has resigned as the chief security officer of a state, I think is most unfortunate. To most of us, we thought the governor has as part of his attitude or his mindset of I don’t care attitude, but surprisingly during the botched primaries we saw that actually the governor has some sensitivity, there are things that he consider of great value and importance. Because we saw how he reacted to issues of primary election when he wanted to impose on the people of Zamfara state some candidates of his choice and when the people rejected him, we also saw how the governor reacted. We saw how much he spent and the length he went to including illegalities and to some extent putting the whole people of Zamfara to shame. Shame in the sense that for a chief executive that doesn’t respect Nigeria laws, I think it is quite unfortunate. For a governor that will call for an election by himself and collate results and most unfortunately went ahead to announce results in a live television programme by himself and his party chairman who himself are all contestants in that election, I think it says a lot about his character and his character formation.
All of us in zamfara have a duty to pray for ourselves and we call on all well meaning Nigerians to join us in this prayers, because the situation is bad; and we should do everything possible to ensure that we utilize 2019 properly, at least we have seen what good leadership can do and what bad leadership can do on the people. It is quite unfortunate that there is nobody that can call the governor to order. The House of Assembly is comatose, they can’t function, the only thing they know is to fight for their own right but not for the people.
They are the people that can call the governor to order, but unfortunately they have failed woefully in that responsibility. All Nigerians knew when almost all of them were brought to Abuja and detained on the orders of the governor and we all had what the Speaker of the House said then, the grave allegations and promised consequences on the governor, but the moment he got the nod of the governor that he is going to get a ticket, nothing is heard again, it is unfortunate. So this the situation sadly that we find ourselves in Zamfara and we are battling to see how best we can manage it and what we can do out of it. We thank God we have a listening ear of Mr. President, he listen to us, we tell him our plight and he try as much as possible all the time to do the needful, but unfortunately like what the minister of internal affairs once said that no amount of military support can bring the situation under control, adding that what you need is a firm government in place that is willing, able and desirous to bring this problems to an end, unless you have something like that you cannot achieve anything even if you mobilize the whole Nigeria Army into Zamfara. So there are a lot things that need to be put in place and the only person that can do it is the chief executive of the state; but when you have a governor that takes his secondary assignment of being chairman of some Governors’ Forum somewhere more important than his primary assignment of the people that elected him, there is very little you can do. When you have a governor that doesn’t stay in his state, so there is very little you can do. It is just like a man and his household. There is little you can do to help a man who doesn’t value his family, even if you assist him, he will rather take it to somewhere, to the people that matters more to him than his own family, so this is the sad situation and these are facts that nobody can dispute but you hear some politicians that lack direction always come out in defense of the indefensible.
What is your reaction to the release of the Zamfara twins?
For more than a year now, I have been shouting on the floor of the Senate, unfortunately my friend and brother Senator Tijjani Kaura was at a point attacking me denying some of my claims, so it is gratifying for me to see him (Tijjani Kaura) standing on the floor of the Senate saying zamfara is under siege. This is the same person that always say what am saying is not true, but today, am sadly vindicated, sadly because is not my wish…..I have this to buttress…yesterday it was my zone completely, but today the heat has been turned on to his own people, they are my own people too, so whatever he said is true, that is the reality.
Now the incidence of the pregnant woman that was kidnapped, is in my constituency, a village in my local government. These people came kidnapped about three women, one of them a pregnant woman that was in her Labour at the time they came and the husband and the woman herself said she was in pains, but they just don’t care, they took this woman then hours after in captivity she gave birth in the bush.
Then look at the case of the twins, they were in the village distributing their wedding cards, the twins are from Senator Kaura constituency, they are not my constituents in real terms. They were distributing cards, but suddenly they were kidnapped along side their sister that got married last year. The three of them and their brothers were kidnapped, only that the case of the twins were made more prominent because the sympathy was more on the twins. As I speak with you the remaining are still with the people, one lady who I learnt is also pregnant and three men. They were captured the same day, same village in zamfara north senatorial district. Instead of the government to come out with pronouncement that will assist, the government in zamfara state today is just interested in politics, continuity. I don’t even know of….the governor was quoted to have said he is going to recruit 8500 people as vigilante, this is the same person that came out and criminalized vigilante groups in zamfara state in 2016 in particular.
He was fuming on Radio and television that anybody caught defending himself or any community is going to be dealt with the same way as the thieves, so what changed from that time to now? And looking at the way he responded to issues of primary election that came up last October, the same person made his boys to attack women that came to exercise their franchise of electing people. Six people were killed on October 3rd precisely and many more injured a situation that led to the cancellation of the primary on October 3rd. Somebody with this kind of background cannot be trusted to hire people, the repercussions could be more than what we are thinking of. People are alleging that he is afraid that some persons that might resist his attempt to impose his candidate during the election and the suspicion is that these people might be led into the bush and be attack for no reason, that was why I made a call to the federal government to look into this issue of recruiting civilian JTF and examine it properly.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has ordered it’s members who have cases in court to withdraw them, channel their grievances through a peace committee or face severe sanction. You are in court, are you worried?
We need to differentiate between litigations. Am in court challenging the congresses conducted by the last NWC of APC, I mean the out-gone NWC that produced party executives at the various levels of the party. And I have a very straight and clear case, a case of disenfranchisement because the party came out with rules and guidelines that says anybody that is desirous of contesting party position should go to the bank pay some fees obtain teller and come to the party and get form which we did. Our people numbering almost 5000 paid different forms of fees and we were denied the forms, so I know of that one and the court duly gave us an injunction an order restraining both factions from participating in primary. I think that time, the essence of the newly elected leadership, main objective was to conduct this primaries, so the court gave us an order and the party thankfully under the able leadership of Chief Adams Oshiomhole obeyed the court order to the latter by constituting independent panel and gave them directive not to liaise with any faction of the party at the state level, to remain neutral and conduct direct primary, sidetracking the party leadership, so I think as far as am concerned am done with my own case, I have no problem, what we have now is that there are about 2-3 litigations which were not initiated by me at any rate but as an interested party I was forced to join, so the state government took the party to court in zamfara state both federal high court and state high court. Just day before yesterday, the case before the federal high court was thrown out by the judge and some fees were allocated to us, they mandated the party to give us some money. What we have now before the state high court is where the government side is asking the court to compel INEC to receive the product of their illegal election, the election that was called out by the governor, coordinated by the governor, collated by the governor, announced by the governor who is a senatorial candidate. So both the party at the National level, INEC and am also joined as an interested party, hence that cannot be said to be a case that I took to court. So if the state government decide tomorrow to withdraw the case, I think I will be the happiest person because to me they are just taking the insult they are given to the people of zamfara state to the next level, because everybody is laughing at us, people are saying these are the people whose governor ordered for an election, that doesn’t know the separation between his own responsibility and responsibility of other people. The second is the one the party itself at the National level took to the federal high court asking the federal high court to compel INEC to receive APC list of consensus candidates for election. Similarly as an interested party I went to join the suit because as far as am concerned I know there was no election, no consensus and if APC is desirous of making consensus they should do it now and I as interested party I should be a party to that consensus and I will know who the consensus candidates are and then we will take them to court and say court now we have consensus, so ask INEC to collect this consensus list. But a situation where you just say that we had consensus ask INEC to collect our list, then after you now form the list, I will not subscribe to that and I don’t think that is just and am sure what the party is saying is not part of this problem. So as far as am concerned literally I have no case before any court of law challenging the party, I don’t have.
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