Kaduna — The Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, has condemned what it described as attempts by some "busy bodies" to deny the killings of 66 people in Fulani settlements in Kajuru Local Government Area (LGA) of the state.
This is coming as a prominent Non-governmental organisation (NGO), Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has described as despicable, reprehensible and outrageous the false and unsubstantiated claim made by the Kaduna governor alleging that 66 Fulanis were slaughtered by Christians in Kajuru LGA of the state.
The Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKPU), has also alleged that el-Rufai's comments on the alleged killings in communities in Kajuru LGA of the state, were deliberately orchestrated to inflame ethnic and religious violence.
Apparently reacting to the controversies that have continued to trail the announcement of the killings on Friday, the eve of the suspended Presidential elections, the state government in a statement yesterday "condemned in the strongest terms attempts to politicise the killings."
Several groups, including former Chairman of National Chairman of the Human Rights Commission, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, had maintained that the death figures were cooked up and had challenged the governor to prove it.
But the spokesman to governor, Samuel Aruwan, who signed the statement, said the "Kaduna State Government notes the concerted and apparently coordinated efforts by bigoted busy bodies to deny the Kajuru killings, or to minimise the casualty figures, and the specious arguments being deployed in this despicable quest"
According to the statement: "Only irresponsible and insensitive people can recklessly dismiss the deaths of members of a community with whom they have no contact.
"Private individuals and unelected actors cannot be allowed to reduce weighty matters of state security to the province of their limited networks, inexperienced lenses and narrow agendas."
The statement added that "the government of a state cannot be deterred by parochial, ethno-religious, partisan or electoral calculations from doing its duty to provide security, confirm incidents of security breaches, take steps to reassure affected communities and ensure that perpetrators are arrested and brought to justice".
Aruwan also said the governor visited scenes of the killings on Saturday.
The statement said the General Officer, Commanding 1 Division of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna, Maj. Gen. Farouk Yahaya, briefed the el-Rufai on the recovery of 66 corpses by soldiers in the Maro and Iri axis of Kajuru LGA.
But despite the governor's insistence that 66 Fulanis were killed, HURIWA has condemned as despicable, reprehensible and outrageous the false and unsubstantiated claim made by the Kaduna governor alleging that 66 Fulanis were slaughtered by Christians in Kajuru LGA.
HURIWA in a statement by the National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, and National Media Director, Miss Zainab Yusuf, said it was unimaginable that the Kaduna governor who had also threatened to kill off foreign election observers should they intervene in the botched February 16 presidential elections was the same person who briefed the media and dished out what has turned out as as fake news in which he falsely claimed that 66 Fulani persons, including women and children were massacred.
HURIWA alleged that the governor's allegation was an attempt to stoke up ethno-religious civil strife and possibly disrupt the general election in a state that has remained volatile since the past three decades.
HURIWA has also condemned the news media that carried the fake information without making any effort to investigate the claims which was dished out to them without any empirical evidence or any shreds of facts or even demanding to see forensic, medical and security reports but proceeded to circulate the half baked tissues of lies and a hate filled story concocted allegedly by the Kaduna governor for purely political reasons.
HURIWA said the action of the media in running with that sensitive but fake story could have undermined national security and imperile peace and ethnic harmony in Nigeria.
The rights group stated that journalism thrives on truth and objectivity and wondered why the media practitioners never asked to see the physical evidence but chose to splash the sensational story on the pages of newspapers on a day the nation was about holding one of the most hotly contested general elections in which the poorly performed President Muhammadu Buhari has displayed overwhelming tendencies that smacks of desperation and avarice for power by all means, including a claim that nobody can unseat him from power.
HURIWA has therefore decided to petition the international community including the international criminal court in The Hague Netherlands to inform these institutions and World leaders that the Kaduna governor must be arrested and prosecuted for crimes against humanity for all the atrocious killings of Christians by armed Fulani terrorists belonging to the Miyetti Allah cattle owners association who share same ethno-religious affinities with governor of Kaduna State.
Meawnhile, the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKPU), has alleged that el-Rufai's comments on the killings in communities in Kajuru LGA of the state,
were deliberately orchestrated to inflame ethnic and religious violence.
SOKAPU, in a statement by its spokesman, Yakubu Kuzamani, accused the governor of "promoting violence through spreading hate speech for the advancement of his waning political survival".
SOKAPU also expressed shocked over the governor's statement, saying: "We are at a loss as to the real motive behind the governor's disclosure, made public less than 24 hours before the commencement of national polls that were postponed by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)".
The union said "el-Rufai's comments over the Kajuru killings was deliberately orchestrated to inflame ethnic and religious sentiments to produce yet another cycle of bloodshed".
SOKAPU said it had reached out to the various community leaders in Kajuru, including officials of the Adara nation to ascertain what actually happened.
Narrating it's findings from the Adara leaders, SOKAPU said: "On Sunday, February 10, 2019, the Adara natives residing in Ungwar Barde in Kufana District of Kajuru Local Government Area came under attack by gunmen suspected to be herdsmen.
"The attack lasted from 10.p.m of Sunday to 4 a.m of Monday February 11, 2019. By the time the merchants of deaths and destructions were through with their mission, no fewer than 11 lives, including a pregnant woman, were lost.
"Scores of victims of the attack on Ungwar Barde sustained injuries, with some of them presently receiving treatment at some health facilities in the state capital. We have been informed that the attackers, seven of them in number, were arrested by a team of policemen.
"Sadly, not a statement was issued by el-Rufai over that gruesome attack on Ungwan Barde."
The statement explained further that "following the Sunday attack on Ungwan Barde, residents of Ungwan Busa and Doruwa located in Kajuru LGA deserted their villages for safety.
"Presently, the District Head of Kufana and four of his village heads, on the directive the governor, have been summoned to Kaduna and ordered to produce persons behind 'reprisal attacks'.
" However, the monarchs have told their interrogators that they are unaware of any 'reprisal attacks' and, therefore, unable to identify persons behind such attacks.
" Apart from the 11 corpses of Adara natives that were killed during the Sunday attack, the community leaders have denied knowledge of any attack.
Arising from the above, SOKAPU is shocked at the deliberate falsehood by el-Rufai who found it convenient not to inform the world of an earlier attack that claimed the lives of 11 Adara natives.
"SOKAPU is convinced that Governor el-Rufai is on an irrevocable journey of inflaming ethnic conflagration that has always been in line with his deliberate chronicle of profiling Southern Kaduna people as favourably disposed to violence".