By John Shiklam in Kaduna
The Kaduna state governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, has inaugurated a 10-man judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the incessant communal crises in Kajuru, Kachia and Chikun Local Government Areas of the state.
Speaking at the inauguration on Wednesday at the Government House, Kaduna, el-Rufai charged the commission to investigate and identify the immediate and remote causes of instances of disturbances from 2017 to date in Kajuru, Kachia, Chikun Local Government Areas and surrounding communities.
Kajuru was plunged into crisis that lasted for more than three months, leading to massive killings and destruction of property.
The victims, many of who were displaced from their homes are barely recovering from the crisis.
El-Rufai urged the panel to “identify individuals, traditional and religious institutions and other associations that might have contributed to the build-up of the disturbances and recommend further action by government ”Assess and determine the extent of loss of lives and property and other forms of damage caused during the disturbances and identify the perpetrators of the dastardly acts for further action by government ”Make any other recommendations to government consequential to or related to any or all these terms of reference…“ and recommend appropriate legal and other actions to be taken against those responsible for the disturbances.“
He further mandated the commission to make appropriate recommendations to government on steps to be taken to forestall future occurrence of such disturbances.
The commission was given three months within which to conclude its assignment.
The governor said violent conflict had riven communities in Kajuru local government area, noting that in 2018, there were two major convulsions in that axis, which sometimes resulted in spillover effects into neighbouring places, including Kaduna metropolis itself as was witnessed in October 2018.
“This year alone, mass killings and displacements were reported in communities within Kajuru LGA in February and March.
“Amidst the contending narratives by the parties involved in the conflict, the state government is convinced that building sustainable peace in the area, requires that all the facts around the episodes of violent conflict be established.
“Therefore, while visiting Karamai community in Kajuru LGA on 2nd March 2019, I announced that the Kaduna State Government had decided to establish a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the communal conflict in Kajuru Local Government Area“ he said.
According to the governor, members of the commission were chosen for this very difficult assignment due to their in-depth knowledge of Kaduna state and expertise in the areas of security management, conflict and peace-building as well their established objectivity in assessment of situations and people.
He said: ”One of the problems that has driven conflict in Kaduna State is that people have taken sides in these conflicts, not based on reason but along ethnic or religious lines.
”We are confident that from the track record of the chairman and members of the Commission, you are well above that.
“We have selected the members from all parts of the country, but with in-depth knowledge of Kaduna state, because we believe that the conflict in Kajuru and surrounding areas is of interest to the entire nation.
“Every Nigerian has a stake in knowing what is happening in Kajuru and surrounding communities” el-Rufai said.
He added that while the Judicial Commission of Inquiry was being constituted, the state government and the local government council have taken steps to stabilise the situation in the area.
“Security detachments are emplaced in the Kajuru axis, and the Nigerian Air Force has established a Forward Operating Base and we also have detachments of the police and Civil Defence present there. Peace dialogue among the communities have been encouraged by the Kaduna State Peace Commission and the Kajuru Local Government Council…
”It is our hope that community leaders will encourage people to lift their gaze above division, to embrace a common humanity and respect the right of everyone to life, liberty and legitimate livelihoods.
”The toll of death and suffering does not have to continue, if everyone does their duty for peace and harmony”.
The commission is headed by Justice Isa Aliyu, a judge of the Kaduna State High Court.
Other members of the commission include; AVM Abdullahi Shehu (rtd.), Mr. B. C. Osuji who served in the Kaduna State Command of the SSS as an Assistant Director;
U. U. Shehu a retired Assistant Inspector General of Police who once served as police commissioner in Kaduna state; Mrs. Hannatu Ugah, a retired Head of Service, Kaduna State and Rear Admiral Ferguson Bobai (rtd.)
Others are Alhaji Auwal Aliyu Damau, Muhammad Sani Isa, Rev. Yusuf Biniyat, Salim Musa Umar, M.I. Aliyu, who will serve as counsel to the commission and Mr. Edward Andow, who is to serve as the Secretary to the Commission.