Paul Obi, Damilola Oyedele in Abuja and John Shiklam in Kaduna
Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai on tuesday said no fewer than 20,000 people lost their lives in the various crises that had rocked Kaduna State since 1980.
The governor said this when a delegation led by the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN) paid him a visit at the Government House, Kaduna.
El-Rufai said it was regrettable that of all the crises in the past 35 years which led to the destruction of lives and property, nobody has been prosecuted for the dastardly acts.
El-Rufai said the solution to killings with impunity in the state is enforcement of the law and prosecution of perpetrators.
The governor noted that apart from the Justice Benedict Okadigbo Tribunal on the Zango-Kataf Religious Crisis no government had prosecuted anybody over their involvements in the various crises in the state.
According to him the, “The administration of former Military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida established the Benedict Okadigbo Tribunal” that those that were implicated in the 1992 Zango-Kataf crisis be made to face the law..
The governor vowed that all those found to be behind the recent killings in Jema’a, Zangon Kataf and Kaura local government areas of the state would be fished out and prosecuted.
He disclosed that a number of arrests had been made, adding that more people would soon be arrested in connection with the crisis .
The governor also said there was no need of setting up any Commission of Inquiry over the southern Kaduna crisis, stressing that all that is required is the enforcement of the rule of law.
“We need to enforce the rule of law in the state. I read all the reports which recommended the way out but there is no single person ever prosecuted to the later”, he said and warned those encouraging the crisis to be mindful that there is consequences for their actions.
” Since 1980, about 10,000 to 20,000 were killed in Kaduna State during crisis and government did not prosecute anybody. We are determined to end the killings in Kaduna. Henceforth, the law will fully apply without fear or favour. We have made some arrests and you will be shock to see the calibre of perpetrators that we are going to arrest and prosecute. No matter highly the person is we will bring him or her to face the full wrath of the law to serve as deterrent to others who may want to sponsor crisis.
“Some of the things you are hearing are not true. Some people have made up their minds to spread hatred and falsehood, especially in the media. We thank you for your visit to Kaduna…..
“Let me correct this impression, it is not the entire Southern Kaduna that is under attacks, we have problem in three local government areas now under control”, the governor said.
Speaking earlier, the NBA President said the visit was to express concern over the killings and explore avenues which the NBA could be of help in resolving the crisis.
“The objective of our visit is on a much more sober issue of some of the recent happenings in some of the local governments in the south of the state.
“We are concerned because of the level of violence and listening to our colleagues, we understand that the scale of violence has really been unprecedented.
“Although we know that the situation in Kaduna, especially in those concerned areas have had a long history”.
Mahmoud noted that the crisis did not start “just last year or two; but given the scale of recent events, we thought it will be important for the NBA to come and pay you a visit; to express our concern and to perhaps explore avenues and ways the NBA could be of possible assistance in resolving some of these issues.”
Following public outcry over the gruesome killings in Southern Kaduna, Kaduna State by suspected herdsmen, the Nigerian Army yesterday absolved itself of any culpability, saying maintenance of internal security was not its primary responsibility.
The Army spoke in Abuja through its Chief of Training and Operations, Maj-Gen. David Ahmadu, explaining that the responsibility for ensuring peace laid squarely at the doorsteps of the Nigerian Police Force.
Reacting to public outrage that the Army and other security agencies failed to stop the killing of indigenes of Southern Kaduna in spite of the overwhelming presence of the military in the state, Ahmadu said the military could not intervene in internal strife except the appropriate authorities directed it to act.
He said: “The fact that there are military formations all over the country does not confer the responsibility for ensuring peace ab initio on it. It is the duty of the Police.”
He said that was why the Army was regimented, explaining that it could only intervene when the Police could no longer function or continue to keep the peace.
According to him, there is a procedure for the Army’s intervention in internal security operations, explaining that the process was duly followed in the Southern Kaduna crisis.
Ahmadu, who was accompanied by the Director of Army Public Relations, Brig-Gen Sani Usman, told journalists that the Army would begin ‘Operation Ex Harbin Kunama’ to strengthen existing peace initiatives in the zone.
The operation will be held in Birnin Gwari area of Southern Kaduna and other contiguous zones in Plateau and Bauchi States, he said.
He explained that the objective of the exercise was to initiate civil-military activities, create public awareness on peace, construction of schools, boreholes and provision of educational materials.
Ahmadu said the Army would conduct the Nigerian Army Small Arms Championship (NASAC) in Sambisa forest as part of its strategy for securing the area against the remnants of Boko Haram terrorists.
Asked if the Sambisa forest was secured enough to embark on such operations, he assured that the Army had already cleared the area for the NASAC exercise.
House Tells President to Order Military to End Southern Kaduna Killings
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the military and the police to be more proactive in identifying the exact areas of the attacks in Southern Kaduna and end the killings.
The lawmakers at plenary tuesday, also called on the military to carry out a comprehensive security mapping to identify the base of the attackers in order to combat the menace.
The House made the call following the adoption of the resolutions of a motion sponsored by Hon. Gideon Gwani (Kaduna APC) who highlighted the recent attacks at Tachirak, Adu and Tsonje villages of Kaura constituency, which claimed 13 lives.
He lamented that despite the 24 hours curfew imposed in the area and the presence of the military and police, gunmen continue to attack villages and unleash mayhem.
The House mandated its Committees on Army, Air Force, Police Affairs, Interior and Internal Security and Intelligence to analyse the situation and proffer solutions to the security challenges in the area.
The joint committee is expected to report back in four weeks.
Southern Kaduna Clergy Wants Herdsmen Flushed From Hideouts
Also expressing concerns over the crisis, the leadership of the Catholic and Anglican Dioceses of Kafanchan, Kaduna state has urged security agents deployed in Southern Kaduna to flush out the suspected herdsmen from their hideouts to stop the pockets of killings going on in some communities.
They also said the dislodgment of the suspected armed herdsmen from their hideouts in the bushes and hills would restore confidence in the people.
Speaking in separate telephone interviews with THISDAY in Kaduna, on the security situation in Southern Kaduna, the Vicar General of the Kafanchan Catholic Arch Diocese, Rev. Fr. Ibrahim Yakubu, and the Kafanchan Bishop of the Anglican Diocese, Rt. Rev. Markus Dogo, said although calm had returned, there were still pockets of killings in some rural communities.
Yakubu, said: “We expected that the security agencies would have flushed out the attackers from their hideouts in the bushes and hills, but that has not been done yet and people are still leaving in fear.”
Also clarifying the claim of CAN that 808 persons had been killed in the attacks by suspected herdsmen, the clergy said the figures included the dead from 2011 to 2016 and challenged those disputing it to produce their own figures.
On his part, Dogo said: “We were thinking that with the security presence, there could have been some kind of manhunt, some kind of invasion of the bushes by the security agencies to flush out the killers from their hide outs, but we have not seen that yet.”
Meanwhile the Kaduna State government has relaxed the curfew imposed on Kaura, Jema’a and Zangon Kataf Local Government Areas of the state.
The state security council at its meeting on Tuesday decided that the curfew would now commence from 7pm to 6am daily.
Mr. Samuel Aruwan, spokesman to Governor Nasir El-Rufai said in a statement that the decision was taken following an assessment of security reports in the areas.