Tobi Soniyi in Lagos and John Shiklam in Kaduna
Former Chairman of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Prof. Chidi Odinkalu yesterday described as false, the statement from the Kaduna state government that 66 people were killed in attacks on Kajuru Local Government Area of the state.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kaduna State, also debunked what it described as the false alarm raised by the state government over the killings.
While Odinkalu spoke during a programme on Channels Television yesterday, the CAN debunked the killing in a statement by the Chairman of Kaduna State, Rev. Joseph Hayap.
Spokesman of Nasir el-Rufai, Mr. Samuel Aruawan, had said the killings reportedly took place in eight settlements across the local government area.
El-Rufai also confirmed the incident, noting that the report of the killing of about 66 Fulanis in Maro, Kajuru local government was quite tragic,” el-Rufai said.
According to him, these deliberate killings are designed to attract reprisals and destabilise that local government during the election. But the security agencies are containing the situation and I’ll be also visiting to also calm down afraid nerves and some arrests have been made already.”
Speaking on Channels Television yesterday, Odinkalu accused el-Rufai of lying about the number of casualties and the timing of the attacks, saying while killings were recorded in the Kajuru last week, the casualties were not more than 11.
He said he contacted many sources in the state, including residents, traditional and religious rulers and nobody confirmed the incident resulting in 66 deaths. That story, if you noticed, that story was broken by the Kaduna state governor with his publicist, Muyiwa Adekeye standing by his shoulder.
“No police officer, no SSS officer, no security person in the vicinity and he was throwing out words that were calculated to be very incendiary on the eve of very difficult elections about a location that is very difficult and has had historical problems of violence across communities.“I spent all of last night from all the sources in Kajuru and nobody can verify or substantiate that there has been a killing of 66 people in Kajuru over the past few days.”
The lawyer asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to pay close attention to the comments of politicians in the election period.
He added: “INEC has got to deal with this kind of reality. It is not just logistics. It is politicians with all manners of design and I think it is important as we deal with the story of this question of postponement, to begin to call out politicians to order. “You cannot on the eve of a very difficult election, stand by yourself with your publicist, and be talking about the killing of 66 people of one ethnic group and be talking about it with a celebratory air, that is beyond irresponsible.
“And I think people across all political divide must call out the Kaduna state governor and any other governor in this country who tries this kind of thing, on the eve of this type of event in our country, must be called out.
“I am saying this with a resent of responsibility, all I spent my life doing in this election is dealing with violence and atrocities. And when I heard this story yesterday, as I said, I spend the entire night calling all the sources I know in Kajuru. I spent a lot of time working on southern Kaduna.
“There were some killings in Kajuru last week up until Saturday or Sunday. And the best numbers we can get, every life matters so I am not saying this carelessly, about 10, 11 people were reportedly killed in Kajuru.
“As a matter of fact, there are still victims from that killing at St Jerat Hospital. The governor indeed was at St Jerat hospital on Tuesday. When did this killings that he talked about happen?
“No bodies, no police officer, no cameras. Let him tell us where he got these bodies from because this is too serious for any governor to say and get away with at this election. We must never allow that story to get away. 66 Nigerians killed, that is 66 too many. If any Nigerian claims that 66 people were killed in Kajuru this week, including the governor of Kaduna, let us all go and verify. It is not true.”
In his statement yesterday, Hayap, said the impression created by the state government that the killings took place on Friday was false.
“CAN Kaduna State also wish to debunk the false alarm raised about killing in Kaduna State which have been made to look like a breaking news. The press statement by Mr Samuel Aruwan, the spokesman of the Governor of Kaduna state suggests that the killing in Kajuru Local Government Area was committed on Friday.
“This is false in its entirety. We are aware that the incident happened in the late hours of Sunday 10 February to 12th February, 2019, at about 1:00am at Gindin Gada, Maro Ward of Kajuru Local Government in Kaduna State where unidentified hoodlums went into the village and killed about 11 people in their sleep.
“The attack, led to reprisals the following Monday. Some suspects were said to have been apprehended and handed over to the Divisional Police in the area.
“We see this as an illogical intentional, premeditated attempt at steering violence in the state for whatever expected gains. The incidence of raising false alarm by the Kaduna State Government should make Nigerians realised that some of our leaders are also guilty of hate speech themselves and that makes them major actors in the game that have denied us peace and have claimed the lives of our love ones.”
CAN called disregard statements from the Kaduna state government, declaring that “should Kaduna State experience any bridge of security before, during and after the general elections we shall hold the Kaduna state (government)as responsible”