Dealing With The Crisis In Kaduna

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The authorities could do more to contain the violence

Kaduna is gradually replacing Zamfara as a state where banditry is fast becoming a way of life. In the latest of such bloody conflagrations, suspected bandits numbering about 100 attacked some villages in Igabi and Giwa local government areas and killed more than 50 men, women and children.

But the hate-filled violence is not an outlandish one-off. It is reminiscent of the savage attacks that have in recent years been visited on Kajuru, Kobin, Gogogodo and many other communities in the state.

That violent brutalities have become emblematic of what the ordinary people in Kaduna State are regularly subjected to should worry critical stakeholders in the state.

Two days after the Kerawa violence, some gunmen suspected to be kidnappers invaded the Mahuta community in the same Igabi council, killed an ex-soldier and abducted three others.

“The north has become a region of endless funerals and perpetual bereavement,” said Senator Shehu Sani, who represented Kaduna Central in the eighth Senate. “Bandits in the north have become a state, they impose fines and taxes, send notices, control spaces, determine life and death and operate without much challenge.” Indeed, the failure to apprehend and prosecute perpetrators of these heinous crimes in the state as elsewhere seems to encourage the propensity for violence.

The Kaduna State Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Rev. Joseph Hayab said recently that the church had spent over N300 million on payment of ransom to free dozens of adherents in the past four years. Last Saturday, three candidates were kidnapped on the Kaduna-Birnin Gwari road after writing their Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME). The driver of their vehicle was killed, according to the police.

Meanwhile, violence and killings between herdsmen and the indigenous people of Southern Kaduna have defied several attempts at finding common ground for peace. Many tribunals of inquiries and peace committees instituted to trace the causes of the crisis and propose sustainable solutions have been unsuccessful largely because government, past and present, lacked the political will to implement their recommendations.

Kidnappings and banditry have added another ugly dimension to the challenge. Given the human and material costs of these crises, the authorities in both Kaduna and Abuja need to be more decisive in stemming the criminal enterprise. It is scandalous that since the escalation of the crisis many years ago, and in spite of the rising body count, not a single person has been successfully prosecuted and convicted for their role. In cases where arrests were made, there were usually accusations that the authorities took side. This has been very unhelpful to any efforts at reconciliation.

Aside the hundreds of people that have been killed and property that had been razed, several families are today dislocated with countless people physically and psychologically maimed for life. It is indeed instructive that after the Godogodo orgy of violence three years ago, Governor Nasir el-Rufai proposed an inquiry into the violent clashes in Southern Kaduna.

But the reports and recommendations of the previous ones, including the 2014 General Martins Agwailed inquiry and the one el-Rufai instituted on the outbreak of the violence on the eve of his inauguration on 29th May, 2015, have not been attended to. As we have said in this space, government must bring to justice all those who use unlawful means to settle scores even as it strives to remove the fundamental basis of the strife that had plagued the area for decades.

On the whole, there is need for a holistic approach that not only addresses the immediate challenge but one that deals with some of the root causes of the crisis that has festered over decades and has claimed far too many lives.

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There is need for a holistic approach that not only addresses the immediate challenge but one that deals with some of the root causes of the crisis