A piece of despicable fiction, titled Emergency Meeting of the Strategic Committee on Political Developments in Kaduna State, is circulating on social media. It purports to be the minutes of a meeting chaired by Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai at which some key officials of the Kaduna State Governmentwere present.
The whole drift of the fabricated minutes is to stoke division, along the lines of region and religion. This fake news is clearly the handwork of desperados unhappy at the successes achieved in stabilizing southern Kaduna and restoring the normalcy that ordinary citizens need to build their lives. These merchants of strife and anarchy alleged in their concocted minutes of a meeting that never held that there were plans to dump our esteemed Deputy Governor, Architect Barnabas Yusuf Bala (Bantex), who is from the Kaduna South Senatorial District (Zone 3) and replace him with Alhaji Lawal Samaila Yakawada, a former SSG, who is from the same Kaduna Central Senatorial District (Zone 2) as the Governor.
Every fair-minded reader of the fake minutes will see that it is a blatant case of religious baiting, meant to stoke up resentment, fear and distress amongst Christians and residents of Kaduna State from the southern parts of the state. This is a criminal action, and should be condemned as incitement and hate speech by every lover of peace, and everybody who is eager to ensure that nobody is able to hide behind ethnicity or religion to further their political and personal agendas. It is time to finally defeat those who relegate and diminish humanity for the narrowness of their faiths or tongues.
As is to be expected of a work of fiction, the fake minutes are riddled with falsehood. It includes a tale that the Government has indicted some notable persons following findings of a Judicial Commission of Inquiry and the need to implement recommendations of the Commission as it concerned the said personalities. At the peak of the tensions in parts of southern Kaduna, this government made clear that it would not set up any Commission of Inquiry into the matter, but treat it purely as a security and law enforcement issue. We have abided by that pledge and thwarted the expectations of the conflict merchants who thought that we would toe the old path of setting up an inquiry and proceed to settle and gratify persons who ought to be punished for promoting conflict.
For the avoidance of doubt, we wish to state as follows:
• The so-called meeting never took place; therefore the entire contents of the purported minutes are a mindless fabrication.
• Governor El-Rufai has not set up any Judicial Commission of Inquiry on the security challenges in southern Kaduna. Therefore, the issue of indicting some notable persons by a Judicial Commission of Inquiry is entirely false.
• Malam Nasir El-Rufai leads a government with a statewide constituency and a statewide mandate. He won in all the three senatorial zones to defeat the incumbent governor in 2015. Governor El-Rufai took 56 per cent of the votes in southern Kaduna. Those whose assumptions were shattered by that result appear to have drawn the mistaken conclusion that ethnicity and religion can once again be used to make the area their stronghold.
• The fake minutes refer to a Ministry of Lands and Survey. That ministry ceased to exist in June 2015, when Malam Nasir El-Rufai restructured ministries, reducing them from the 19 that he inherited. There is also nothing like a Board of Internal Revenue. The revenue agency in Kaduna State is the Kaduna State Internal Revenue Service (KADIRS).
• Minutes of a meeting of senior government officials, allegedly taken by a senior official, cannot be so serially wrong about the names of government agencies and officials.
We wish to categorically state that the sinister motive and agenda behind this fake minutes is to create religious and ethnic tension in Kaduna State. This is characteristic of the kind of politicking that has foisted a legacy of violent conflict on the state.
We will not allow these forces of darkness to achieve their goal of setting the state on fire and dividing people. Governor El-Rufai will never be distracted from implementing his development agenda across the length and breadth of Kaduna State.
We hereby appeal to citizens of the state to disregard the purported minutes as the divisive hoax of people frightened that the old order of division and spoils that sustained them is being crushed.
While acknowledging the constitutional and fundamental rights to free expression, the government is compelled to refer this dangerous hoax been to the security agencies. Residents of Kaduna State are assured that this government will prosecute anybody that investigations tie to the production of this irresponsible fiction.