Shola Oyeyipo in Abuja
The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF)A has advised relevant authorities in Nigeria, particularly the federal government, to call the Kaduna State Governor Mallam Nasir El-Rufai to order to prevent him from stoking ethnic crisis in his state.
Making the call Tuesday in a statement by the National Publicity
Secretary, pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Mr.
Yinka Odumakin, the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) alleged that the governor’s actions are capable of igniting crisis.
According to the body, “The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum has watched with keen interest recent attempt by the Governor of Kaduna State, Mr. Nasir El-Rufai, to foment ethnic crisis in his state on the eve of the botched February 16 presidential elections.
“The governor had claimed the reprisal killing of 66 Fulani people in Kajuru LGA of the state with fanfare but has yet to show evidence of deaths as we write this,” the statement said.
The leaders lamented that “the glee with which the governor went on air on Friday, February 15, 2019 alleging the killings was shocking for the chief executive of a state.”
They noted that “The governor went ahead to list the number of
villages that were attacked but deliberately excluded Ungwan Barde where 11 people with identified corpses were killed for whatever reasons best known to him.
“The governor claimed that the incident happened on the eve of the election. But the truth by the community concerned is that the
incident took place between Sunday, February 10, to Tuesday, February 12, 2019 in Ungwar Barde in Kufana district, where 11 innocent Adara people were killed by suspected herdsmen without any provocation.”
Contrary to the claim in Odumakin’s statement however, the military has confirmed the casualty figure announced by the governor. The General Officer Commanding 1 Division of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna, Maj. Gen. Faruk Yahaya, last weekend confirmed that 66 people were killed in fulani communities in Kajuru local Government Area of Kaduna state during the attack. Gen. Yahaya spoke during an inspection tour of the affected communities on Saturday by the governor. On the tour were the state Commisioner of Police and the Director of the Department of State Services.
Just on Tuesday after an expanded security meeting with President Buhari at the State House, Abuja, Governor El-Rufai, while briefing the press, said the death toll had increased to 130.
El-Rufai said: “The last report we got is that over 130 people were killed not even 66 and the Fulani leaders have provided the names of all these people.
”We have the list, we can release it to the Press and I don’t want to be gross but we can release pictures of the people killed and how soldiers have to be there to help bury them, two days after they were killed because the bodies were decomposing.
”Whoever still doubts that this did not happen is being grossly irresponsible.’’