John Shiklam in Kaduna
The Kaduna State District Church Council (DCC) of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), wednesday alleged that the plans by the state government to recreate grazing reserves in the southern part of the state was responsible for the killings in the area.
Addressing a news conference in Kaduna, the Chairman of DCC, Rev. Zachariah Gado, said renewed violence in Southern Kaduna was motivated by the announcement by the state government to recreate the grazing reserves in the southern Kaduna.
He disclosed that since the latest onslaught on Southern Kaduna began, at least 138 persons have been killed, most of them women and children while about 1,300 homes and churches have been razed.
“We have come to the unfortunate conclusion that the announced intention of the Kaduna State Government to “re-create existing cattle grazing reserves” in Southern Kaduna serves as a major motivation for the renewed ethno-religious violence and cleansing currently being visited on Southern Kaduna communities” Gado said.
While commenting on the N100 million donation by the state government for the reconstruction of churches and mosques destroyed in Southern Kaduna during the signing of a peace accord in Samaru Kataf last weekend, Gado said the money would have been more useful if it was given to the security agencies to fight the killers as many people have deserted the villages where the churches are located.
“We acknowledge the gesture of the state governor in offering N100 million for the rebuilding of churches and mosques in Southern Kaduna destroyed through violence, we wonder who would be worshiping in these churches, since most of the worshippers have fled for safety or do not even have homes anymore to live in.
“We appeal to the Kaduna State Government, in the interests of justice, peace and security, to respect the wishes of the electorate of Southern Kaduna and their elected representatives and stop the creation of grazing reserves in the area, especially since this is tantamount to rewarding perpetrators of murder, arson and destruction for their crimes.
“As perpetrators continue to evade consequences for their illegal and violent actions, impunity and lawless are becoming entrenched, to the detriment of the entire state,” Gado said.
He appealed to both the state and federal governments to restore all communities that were taken over by herdsmen to the rightful owners.
Gado said failure to do so would not only encourage further lawlessness; which may eventually compel the owners of the villages to resort to forceful means to recover their ancestral and God given lands.
He further called on the federal government to establish an army barracks near the affected areas in order to deter such killings in the future.
Gado also urged that victims of the attacks whose homes and property were destroyed, should be compensation and provided with relief materials.
“As servants of the God of peace and justice, who has charged us to care for all humanity, we cannot keep silent as unprecedented violence is visited on communities and on the church by malign forces whose motivation is now becoming clearer.
Meanwhile, the state deputy governor, Barnabas Bala Bantex, wednesday warned mischief makers against politicising the attacks.
Bantex spoke when he visited communities in Kauru Local Government Area of the state where 45 people killed by suspected Fulani herdsmen last weekend.
While condoling with the villagers, Bantex said government had ordered fullscale investigation on the attacks following a preliminary report.
“We have received preliminary reports and we have already ordered for full scale investigation. We inherited the break down of law and order in the state but we are working day and night to restore peace in some parts of Southern Kaduna and places like Birnin Gwari.
“We are also advising people to stop politicising security issues in Kaduna, we must live in peace with one another as one of the ways of embracing peace in our communities. We call on you to reject messages of hatred and division by the mischief makers, but accept peaceful messages,” Bantex said.