Nigeria: Those Killings in Southern Kaduna

8 August 2020

Kaduna — The Kaduna state government has recently imposed curfew in Zango Kataf and Kauru local governments due to the escalation of tension in the affected areas.

However, there is uproar by the southern Kaduna people union (SOKAPU) and Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) over what they alleged as ethnic cleansing by the suspected Fulani marauders. These ethnic and religious associations have blamed the Kaduna state government for not doing enough to arrest the situation. The accusation came barely when the executive governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasiru El-Rufai promised to implement the 1992 Zangon Kataf crises white paper report to a logical conclusion. While Kaduna has been experiencing bandit attacks in recent times, the southern part killings have taken an ethnic and religion colouration. There is no gainsaying the facts that, southern Kaduna killings have predated the El-Rufai administration. The crises are deeply rooted as the result of the claim of land ownership between the predominant Christians majority and the Muslim minority who are tagged as "settlers".

For the Fulani nomads who are being accused as the main culprits of the daily attacks on the area, their aggression towards the natives is based on the killing of their loved ones by ethnic militias and rustled of their cattle. After 2011 election in which late Patrick Yakowa won, Fulani herdsmen who were on transit through the southern Kaduna were maimed, attacked and killed by the southern Kaduna militias. The committee set up by late Yakowa to find out the remorse causes of post-elections violence in Kaduna state recommended that, compensation be paid to the Fulani herdsmen who suffered incalculable lost during the post-elections crises in the state. I think the current unfortunate killings in the area could either be connected to revenge by those Fulani who were unjustifiable murdered in cold blood in the 2011 election, bandits or faceless hire assassins. Whoever is the culprit, the continuous killing in the rural communities in spite of a concerted effort by the government to address it, suggests complicity. Yes, some people are either profiting from the senseless killings or are not helping matters.

The inability of the government to prosecute those found wanting in the cobweb or circles of killings in southern Kaduna has aggravated tension, ignited revenge and fractured genuine commitment to finding lasting peace in the troubled area. The state would have heaved a sigh of relief after the Zango-Kataf ethnic and religion conflict. If we could recall, a committee of inquiry was set up to investigate the causes of the crises by Babangida military government. At the end of the committee's assignment, some retired military general includes: Rtd Zamani Lekwot were indicted for aiding or abetting the crises that claimed hundreds of lives. However, the Babangida military regime threw the baby with the bathwater. It went ahead to pardon them. Ever since the state continues to experience ethnoreligious tension with the culprits getting away with their impunity.

Although the Kaduna state governor has promised to produce the white paper on the recommendations made by the judicial commission of inquiry and the reconciliation committees, there is the need for government to move faster, arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of these ungodly or heinous crimes. This will serve as a deterrent to others.

The media hype and concocted lies being bandied or peddled by some war merchants in cohort with a section of the ethnic bigots' media are making the peace effort in the area more complicated. The commander of operation Safe haven, Major-General Chukwumeka Okonkwo has described the killings in southern Kaduna as the activities of criminal elements on both sides and not ethnic cleansing as it is being claimed. The commander further said, "any incident is enough to spark off crises in the area, there have been lingering disputes and animosities, banditry and cattle rustling there."

Notwithstanding the clarification by the commander of the safe haven, ethnics warriors are still beating the drum of war and inciting unrest. To quote the words of his excellency the governor of Kaduna State, Nasiru Elrufa'i, "peace can reign in southern Kaduna only if people agree to live in peace and harmony."

Will the aggrieved people living in the southern Kaduna agree to sheath their sword and live in peace? As of the time of writing this piece, I have read that, three Fulani herdsmen were ambushed by hoodlums in Zango Kataf area on Tuesday. These Fulani herdsmen who went to graze were attacked and sustained various degrees of injuries. Besides, an alarm was also raised on how innocent travellers are waylaid and killed based on their ethnicity and faith they belong to. These callous acts are condemnable and can deteriorate the already tense situation in the state.

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