- Says he advised El-Rufai against releasing death toll
By John Shiklam in Kaduna
The Kaduna State Police Commissioner, Ahmad Abdulrahman, Thursday said the police cannot confirm the death figures of killings in communities in Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State until investigations were completed.
The death toll had been a subject of controversy in some quarters. Governor Nasir El-Rufai had last Friday said 66 Fulanis were killed in the reprisals. That figure was confirmed by the General Officer Commanding 1 Division of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna, Maj. Gen. Faruk Yahaya, last weekend. But after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House on Wednesday, El-Rufai told State House correspondents that the figure had risen to 130.
Addressing journalists in Kaduna on Thursday, Abdulrahaman said he advised Governor Nasir el-Rufai against quoting figures until investigations were completed.
“I told the governor that figures in a crisis of this magnitude should be left (unquoted) until all investigations have been concluded in all the areas where we are getting information from…
“You cannot come up with a figure otherwise you will quote a particular figure now and quote another later.
“This is what is happening now. As far as police is concerned, we are investigating and the investigation is still in the embryonic stage, until the time we covered all the areas, we cannot quote any figure” the police commissioner said.
He said further that “as we speak my men are still in the bush with humanitarian workers trying to actually find out the true position of things.”
According to him: “The crisis occurred in a terrain full of conglomerate of hamlets which were difficult to assess with our vehicles. We are still uncovering areas where nobody had visited. We are now at the stage of crisis management which is very delicate.
“That is why nobody should stampede our investigation. If the governor tells you that the casualty figure is 200, he is just quoting figures.
“It could be more than that or less than that. For example, the place where 36 people were said to have been buried, was not at the purview of the security agencies at the commencement of the investigation.
“We didn’t even know that something happened until when the Fulani themselves came out to tell us after we have secured the place in conjunction with the military, that they approached to accompany them to their hamlet in order to bury their dead relations.
“There was a mix up in the assertion by the Fulani that the policemen took pictures of the corpses they buried one after another.
“That very hamlet where they talked about burying 37 corpses was discovered by the military.
“The terrain was very terrible and we could not even identify areas affected by the crisis between 10th and 11th February when it started. So, no policeman went ahead of the military.
“ It was the military that went there first to assist the native Fulani that were affected, helped them (to) bury their dead relatives.
“The policemen went there later with the GOC whose men discovered the place, for a stakeholders’ meeting in order to calm nerves and to find a lasting solution to the nonsense, that (was) we were informed that there was a camp which they would want us to see.
“That was when my policemen went there and met some military personnel there and we also saw the graves.
“That was the day the police took pictures of the burnt hamlets and the shallow grave. “We were actually perceiving the stinking smell of the decomposing corpses, oozing out of the place.
“We also saw two motorcycles burnt there too. That was the first time that we saw the man who claimed that 37 dead persons were buring in the shallow grave.
“He even said that his parents, wife, uncle and relations were also among the dead bodies that were buried.
“We believed him because the whole hamlet was cleared. We could only see the carcasses of animals full of maggots.
“We are working on three prominent theories. First is that unknown gunmen believed to be Fulani, attacked the Adara people and escaped in the night on 11 February.
“The DPO in charge of the area immediately mobilised his men to the area, combed the bushes in search of the perpetrators in the middle of the night. It was there that they started seeing the carnage.
“Unfortunately, the Adara natives went to the Fulani communities and carried out a reprisal attacks. At that time, it was easier to identify the perpetrators or those (who) instigated the reprisal. However, we have arrested one of the suspected Fulani that attacked the Adara people and we are still pursuing the others.
“Although the only Fulani man who was arrested had denied any involvement but our men are still working on his case”.