By John Shiklam in Kaduna
President Muhammadu Buhari vowed on Tuesday that the federal government will take the strongest measures possible to punish perpetrators of the Kaduna violence.
He also assured that the federal government will consider payment of compensation and resettlement of communities affected by the 2011 post-election violence which had lingered for long.
Speaking during a meeting with traditional and religious leaders at the Indoor Sports Hall of the Murtala Square, Kaduna, over the violence that rocked the state last week, the President said, this time around, those responsible for the killings will not get away with the crime.
“The federal government will take strongest measures possible to punish perpetrators of these crimes.
“If, in the past they got away scot free, we shall now hold everyone to account for these latest killings.
“Let it be clear to all that individuals and communities have obligations to comply with the law and uphold peace” he said.
These obligations, according to Buhari, “include respecting the rights of others to live wherever they choose, to worship freely and to pursue lawful livelihoods anywhere in this country”, stressing that “these are constitutional and human rights that we as a government and people must uphold and defend.”
Buhari expressed sadness over the loss of lives and properties during these tragic incidents in the state, saying it is unacceptable that criminal elements can visit on citizens the wanton killings recorded in the Kasuwan Magani incident of 18th October 2018 and the unrest around Kaduna metropolis a few days later.
Buhari also commiserated with the government and people of Kaduna State over the loss of a traditional ruler, the Agom Adara, Mr. Maiwada Raphael Galadima, who was killed by his abductors after collecting a N10 million ransom.
He assured that the federal government will continue to work to ensure that more security assets were procured and deployed across the country to protect all citizens going about their lawful business and to reinforce the authority of the government.
H commended the efforts of the Kaduna state government in responding to, and managing the crisis.
“It is my earnest appeal to all who call Kaduna home to do their best to uphold peace in their respective communities. “Chaos and anarchy tend to worsen and exacerbate whatever issues are agitating a community”, the President said.
According to him, violence shatters and divides people and stifles the prospect of any community that succumbs to its tragic logic.
The President said the federal government was doing its best to develop human capital and address poverty and inequality in all parts of the country.
“Providing decent education and health are my priority goals. I am delighted with the successful collaboration between federal institutions like the Bank of Industry and the Kaduna State Government to provide vocational and entrepreneurship skills, and low-interest credit to expand economic opportunities.
“I urge Kaduna State Government not to relent in its focus on expanding equality of opportunity, promoting job creation and upholding law and order…
“I have noted the concerns raised by the Governor of Kaduna State about the outstanding issues of payment of compensation and resettlement of communities that have lingered since the post-election violence of 2011.
I assure you that the federal government will give due consideration to the matter” he said.
Speaking earlier, the Kaduna state governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, lamented the persistent violence in the state for the past 40 years.
“Your Excellency, what we are battling in Kaduna State is the legacy of nearly 40 years of violence and impunity.
“The current government of Kaduna State is persuaded that it has a solemn obligation to lead the state towards overcoming the tragic legacy of strife.
“Kaduna State is not the only diverse place on this planet, and the people who live in it must not remain trapped in a whirl of hate and division” the governor said.
Narrating the history of violence in the state, he said the first ethno-religious clash in the state happened in Kasuwan Magani in 1980, regretting that many other clashes had happened without the perpetrators being sufficiently sanctioned.
This, according to him, had “resulted in breeding and empowering constituencies of impunity that believe that violence pays and that violence has no negative consequence for the planners and perpetrators”.
He said the state government intends to enforce the various provisions of the Riots Damage Law of 1958, the Collective Punishment Law of 1915 and the Peace Preservation Law of 1917 which impose costs on communities that permit violence in their midst.
He commended the President for the deployment of security to the state to enforce law and order.
The meeting which lasted for about an hour, was attended by the emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Shehu Idris, chairman of the Kaduna state chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Bishop George Dodo, and the Secretary-General of the Jama’atul Nasril Islam (JNI), Dr. Khalid Aliyu, among several traditional and religious leaders from the communities affected by the violence.