Relative Peace for Ravaged Kajuru Communities in Kaduna

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John Shiklam writes that relative peace is gradually returning to embattled communities in Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna state, which were hitherto ravaged by bloody killings and destruction
After so much bloodshed and destruction, relative  peace is  gradually returning to embattled
 communities in Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State. The peace process is being facilitated by the Truth and Reconciliation Committee set up by the authorities of the Kajuru Local Government to find lasting solution to the persistent clashes between the indigenous Adara natives and the Hausa/Fulani community in the locality.
Now, victims of the crisis are picking up the pieces of their lives to start life all over again following the massive destruction of their properties.
Beginning of Crisis
Kajuru was plunged into bloody crisis on February 10, 2019, when gunmen, suspected to be Fulani herdsmen, invaded Anguwan Barde, mainly inhabited by the indigenous Adara ethnic nationality at around midnight, killing 11 people and setting houses ablaze.
The incident was said to have led to reprisal attacks on Fulani settlements, resulting in more killings and destruction.
The state governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai had during his visit to the Fulani settlements few days after the reprisal attack, disclosed on February 15, 2019, the eve of the botched Presidential election, that 66 Fulanis were killed. The governor later put the death toll of the Fulanis at 130.
Counting the Cost
For about three months, several communities in the area were raided by rampaging gunmen, believed to be herdsmen, unleashing mayhem. Over 300 people, mostly women, children and the aged were slaughtered and killed in the most brutal and animalistic manner.
Some of those who miraculously survived the vicious attacks suffered permanent physical deformity from severe injuries on their hands and legs leading to amputation in some cases.
It was gathered that about 700 houses may have been burnt while about over 12,000  people were said to have been displaced following the crisis.
In the past two years, the Kajuru had witnessed frequent ethno-religious clashes, especially in Kasuwan Magani, often leading to killings and destruction of property.
Tortuous Ordeal for IDPs
Many of those displaced during the crisis have  since returned to their various communities to commence their farming activities, but a few are still at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in Maraban Kajuru.
Those that had returned to their villages are said to be facing serious challenges of shelter and hunger.
Danladi Yarima, a former President of the Adara Development Association (ADA), told THISDAY in an interview, that many of the victims of the attacks lost everything; homes, properties and foodstuffs, so they are starting life afresh.
He said while some of them were able to roof their homes, courtesy of donations from groups and individuals, others have no place of shelter as their houses were demolished.
“I can say that relative peace is gradually returning to our communities, but people are afraid of the unknown having been trumatised. Most of those  who were  at the IDP camps have gone back to their villages, but some of them are squatting with relations and friends as they have not been able to rebuild their houses which were destroyed during the attacks. Also, they have no food because their food items were burnt.”
Several groups and well meaning individuals helped in the provision of food stuffs, roofing sheets and other relief materials, but the magnitude of destruction is so overwhelming,” Yarima added.
Speaking further, he said, because of the pervasive fear, communities are scared of going to farms that are far from their homes to avoid being killed or abducted for ransom.
“Our people are scared of going to farms that are far from home. The large farms are usually far from home. “Our people have restricted themselves to the farm in their backyards as it is risky to go to the major farms which are far from their homes.
Nobody can go to a farm that is far from the village for fear of being killed or kidnapped” he said.
According to Yarima, “even if you want to go to the farm in groups, it will be suicidal, considering the sophisticated weapons that these bandits carry around. That is the situation we have found ourselves”.
Mutual Suspicion 
Speaking in a similar vein, a community leader in Kasuwan Magani, Alhaji Tsoho Garba Danbakano lamented the persistent conflicts among communities in in the area, especially in Kasuwan Magani.
He noted that both the Adara and Hausa /Fulani have been coexisting peacefully prior to this crisis and called on both sides of the divide to embrace peace.
He noted that even as peace is gradually returning, there is mutual suspicion among the people which is affecting their socio economic activities, noting that some people are scared of going to their farms for fear of being attack.
“I was born in Kasuwan Magani, 60 years ago. I attended missionary school – Baptist School, Mararaban Kajuru. We  lived in peace with Adara people, the missionary helped greatly.
For a long time, there had been clashes particularly in Kasuwan Magani, we don’t know the cause of these conflict. I have been going round to tell people that peace is very fundamental in the development of any community” he said.
Reconciliation Committee
Chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, Mr. Patrick Stephen Maigari, a former Kajuru Council Chairman, at a news conference in Kaduna said his committee was determined to ensure lasting peace in the area.
He said the clashes which led to killings and destruction of property was very unfortunate and unacceptable,  given the fact that the people in the area had coexisted together peacefully for a long time.
He regretted that the crisis has portrayed Kajuru in a very negative light within and outside the state.
“In this country when you call Kajuru, it is known as centre of crisis and as far as we are concerned, members of this committee and the Kajuru people will not want that name tag” he said.
According to him, the 49 member committee comprises selected members of the various communities in the area, representing different interests, with a view to tackle the root causes of the persistent conflicts.
Key stakeholders in the committee includes, representatives of the  indigenous Adara natives, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) in Kajuru LGA, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Kajuru LGA, the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), Kajuru LGA  and the Adara Youth Association as well as representatives of various communities across the locality.
Maigari said the committee will not relent in the efforts to end the bloodshed in the area.
“I want to assure the Kajuru people that hopefully, based on the commitment of the committee members, by God’s grace we are going to see the last of crises in Kajuru Local Government Area” he said.
He said the committee has been mandated to ensure that  “there is a ceasefire, there should be no fresh attacks and there should be no reprisal attacks. You are aware that if you don’t have fresh attacks, you will not have fresh attacks. That is the truth about it.”
Maigari who is also a former commissioner of health, noted that  Kajuru is predominantly an agrarian area, pointing out that  the people are mainly farmers, and “if there is anytime we need peace, it is now that we are in the farming season.
“We are appealing to the Hausa/Fulani, the Adara community, the Christian and Muslim communities to please seize fire and let’s resolve our issues amicable and locally. There is no outsider who knows the problems of Kajuru more than indigenes of Kajuru” he said.
He explained further that the committee is also charged with the responsibility of ensuring that both Muslim and Christian religious leaders preach peace in their mosques and churches.
The committee enjoined Adara and Hausa/Fulani traditional leaders to preach peace in their domains.
“We will listen to every grievances and proffer solutions. We have asked people to submit memorandum. At the appropriate time we will hold public hearing where the whole world will listen to the defence of writers of the memorandum.
“We will explore all avenues for peace. We are interfacing with the Kaduna State Peace Commission to make sure that we have lasting peace in Kajuru Local Government. We call on people who feel they can help us have lasting peace to assist us with their ideas,” Maigari said.
Speaking further, he said the release of six out of the nine of the Adara leaders, who were arrested and detained for over three months following the crisis, will go along way in enhancing the peace process.
The arrest and detention of only Adara leaders in a conflict between two groups had attracted a lot of criticisms among the Adara  people who accused the authorities concerned for alleged bias as they claimed that no single Fulani was arrested despite the alleged raiding and killings in Adara communities by the Fulanis.
Maigari stressed that the release of Adara leaders was a welcome development, noting that the committee couldn’t have made any headway with the leaders in detention.
He said: “In our interactions with committee members and the media, I kept on reiterating the need to get the Adara leaders out of detention for a proper and deep reconciliation. I want to use the opportunity to thank the governor because what was presented in court was a no case submission.

“We thank him for acting promptly, though they (the Adara leaders ) spent more than three months in prison, nevertheless, their freedom is more important to us than the length of time they spent in prison.
“I want to use this medium on behalf of the committee members who are highly elated with that development and we want to build on that to make sure that we kicked start the phases of reconciliation” he said.
During the last Sallah celebrations, the committee organised a get together between the Adara and the Hausa Fulani. The event which held  at Marraban Kajuru to was  attended by all the stakeholders who celebrated together.
In an interview during the celebrations, Maigari said the committee will continue to explore such avenues to promote interactions and understanding among the Adara and the Hausa/Fulani communities.
He said as  far as he was  concerned, for the past 16 years that he had held leadership positions at various levels in Kajuru Local Government, “we are never known to be people of violence”.
Pathway to Peace
Key stakeholders in the peace process, the JNI,  Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) and community leaders have also demonstrated the desire for peaceful coexistence by appealing to their people to shun violence.

According to the Kajuru Local Government Chairman of MACBAN, Musa Aliyu, what has happened was unfortunate, saying that the people must forgive each other and reconcile and embrace peace in order to move forward.
He said the Fulani also suffered so much losses and destruction, just as he called on both parties to forgive each other and embrace peace.
“I am calling on Fulanis to embrace peace. If there is no peace, there will be no progress, it is only in a peaceful environment that we can make progress as a community and as individuals. War cannot bring peace. We must come together, understand each other and forgive each other.
“We have lived peacefully with Adara people for a long time…We are optimistic that this committee will bring about lasting peace because the chairman of the committee is a detribalised person.
“We know that farmers and herders always have issues when cows damage the  farms, but the issues are always amicably resolved” Aliyu said.
Way Forward
Speaking in the same vein, a former Accountant General of Kaduna State and Governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in the March 2019 elections, Alhaji Saeed Kajuru, commended the efforts being made to ensure peace lasting peace in the area.
According to him, “Kajuru had been a sad story around the world not just in Nigeria. All over the globe, people seemed to know the name Kajuru these few years. It is not something that we are proud of, we are very sad about the unfortunate happenings.”
He urged that all efforts aimed at bringing peace should be sustained, noting that there cannot be development and growth in a community that is always embroiled in crises.
“We do know for sure that there cannot be enduring peace, if the people themselves do not embrace it. We need to work towards rebuilding relationships that we had centuries ago. This efforts is therefore commendable. Beyond this, we are doing this at individual levels, we have had small committees in local settings that are working with each other to form relationships.
“The committee’s work is not a small job. It is about saving lives. We are loosing economically, therefore, they  should look at all angles, not just the fight, but what we are loosing” he said.
Also positing the way forward for peace, National President of the Adara Development Association (ADA) Awema Dio Maisamari, attributed the problem to lack of justice and fairness.
He said the Adara and Hausa/Fulani don’t have issues with each other as they have been living peacefully.
“We don’t really have crisis with the Hausa/Fulani, we have been living very peacefully” he said.
According to him, one of the causes of the crisis was the alleged infiltration of Adara Chiefdom by “some notorious trouble makers who were running away from places outside Kajuru, after plunging other places into crisis”.
He said the Adara people were naive to accommodate such people, adding that
crime rate and other illegalities skyrocketed in the locality upon their arrival. He said the people suffered  all the acts of criminality as they were being kidnapped, robbed and killed by the criminals.
Maisamari who is one of the Adara leaders that were arrested during the killings and detained for over three months, accused the Kaduna State Government for alleged bias and injustice against the Adara people, adding that the  solution to lasting peace is to ensure that there is justice for all citizens.
“Like the late popular reggae musician, Peter Tosh sang, we need justice and equal rights. We need to seat down and discuss the issues to ensure justice and fairness to each other,” he said.
According to him one of the injustices against the Adara people, was the scrapping of the Adara Chiefdom by Governor Nasir el-Rufai, which is being challenged in court.
He maintained that peace is very important to the development and advancement of the people,  noting however that it is difficult to achieve peace in the face of glaring injustice, bias and discrimination.
He said a situation where government would rather protect the perpetrators of crime and leave the victims of the criminals to their fate does not promote peace.
“Government is paying lip service to insecurity. Government does not even care about victims of insecurity. They are more interested in protecting those criminals suspected to be behind the insecurity. That is injustice…” he said.
Maisamari maintained further that, the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee was a welcome development, but expressed doubt about  the capacity of the committee to resolve the issues, although he said the constitution of the committee  provides an avenue for all the parties to discuss the issues.
He added that, “it is because of lack of justice that we have so many issues, especially the abduction and killing of the Agom Adara, Dr. Maiwada Galadima, the scrapping of the Adara Chiefdom, discrimination in appointments and citing of projects. All these are injustices and I am sure even the Hausa/Fulani want the same thing.”
Judicial Commission 
Besides the Truth and Reconciliation Committee, the Kaduna state government, had on April 17, 2019, announced the setting up of a 10 man judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the incessant violent attacks in Kajuru.
The  commission headed by Justice Isa Aliyu of a Kaduna State High Court and which the Adara Development Association described its membership as  lopsided in favour of Hausa/Fulani, was given three months within which to submit its report.
The panel  was mandated to, among others, investigate, ascertain and identify the immediate causes of violent attacks in Kajuru communities.
The commission was further mandated 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”.
However, since the constitution of the panel about four months ago, it is yet to commence work.
The Adara and Hausa/Fulani communities have all expressed the desire for peace in Kajuru. How the state government handles the contending issues will determine the return of lasting peace in this once peaceful communities that have witnessed so much bloodshed and destruction in recent times.