Nigeria: Religion, Ethnicity Compounding Communal Violence in Southern Kaduna - El-Rufai

A map showing Kaduna State in Nigeria.

Kaduna — Kaduna State Governor Malam Nasiru El-Rufai Tuesday described the prevailing insecurity in southern Kaduna as an act of criminality compounded by the injection of religion and ethnicity.

The governor who stated this at a security meeting with heads of security agencies in the state aimed at mapping out lasting solutions to the killings in the southern part of the state said nobody would be allowed to get away with crime irrespective of any ethnic or religious colouration.

"Banditry menace in other parts of the state and the Northwest has so uniquely been compounded by communal tensions through the injection of religion and ethnicity in what is truly pure criminality in the southern part of the state.

"Respect for the rule of law compels us to prosecute anyone indicted for involvement in the wanton violence," he said.

The governor said the state was witnessing the tragic aftermath of the events of June 5, 2020, when youths from two communities clashed over ownership of farmlands in Zangon Kataf and the upsurge of violence in the same area that started on June 11, 2020.

"Like an unwanted virus, the violence has spread to and necessitated extraordinary measures in four local governments in the southern Senatorial district of the state. As we speak today, four out of the eight local governments are under 24 hours curfew," he said.

He further observed that: "Just as the 2016/2017 circle of violence in the area painfully shows, the only victors in communal violence are death and destruction. That is the painful legacy of the violence that has claimed lives and fractured communities since 1980. We must stop it, understand why it persists and remove the root courses."

However, the multi-security task force in charge of security in parts of Southern Kaduna, yesterday, said the insecurity bedeviling the area was orchestrated by criminal elements from both sides of the conflict and not ethnic cleansing as erroneously reported by a section of the media.

Operation Safe Haven (OPSH) Commander, Major General Chukwuemeka Okonkwo, who spoke with journalists after the high-level security meeting at the council chambers of Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, said: "What we have were attacks on some communities and reprisal attacks."

"Perhaps, most of the media houses don't know that both sides are actually involved."

"You have Kataf youths, Fulani militias, and the criminal elements of both sides. Some people are also leveraging on the security situation to perpetuate their criminal activities, aside from communities involved in the crisis," he said.

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