By John Shiklam
The Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, has said that the incessant killings in the Southern part of the state, was caused by “cycle of attacks, revenge and reprisals.”
The Presidency had also attributed the massacre in Southern Kaduna to religion and ethnicity.
Garba Shehu, Presidential spokesman had in a statement on July 21, maintained that “From available security records, the problem in Southern Kaduna is an evil combination of politically-motivated banditry, revenge killings and mutual violence by criminal gangs acting on ethnic and religious grounds.”
El-Rufai, in a statement issued yesterday, after featuring in a special programme on local radio stations in Kaduna on Thursday night, said attacks by bandits in the state got coated with ethnic and religious hues when it affects communities in the Southern part of the state.
The governor’s statement came as seven people were killed on Thursday night in a fresh attack on Agwala Doka, Kajuru Local Government Area of the state by gunmen suspected to be herdsmen.
In the last four days, no fewer than 43 people have been killed by invading gunmen in communities in Kaura, Zangon Kataf, Kauru and Kajuru LGAs of the state.
President of the Adara Development Association (ADA), Mr. Dio Awema, said the attack on Agwala Doka occurred at about 9p.m. when the bandits stormed the community and open fire on the villagers.
However, el-Rufai, in the statement after the radio programme by his spokesman
Muyiwa Adekeye said, “insecurity in Kaduna State was being perpetrated by criminal elements who had been killing, kidnapping people and rustling cattle the entire North West”
According to him, “the criminality of the bandits gets coated with ethnic and religious hues when it affects communities in the Southern parts of the state, where it tends to exacerbate communal tensions and pitch people who have lived peacefully together against each other.”
The governor said his administration had “taken major steps to secure the area, including ensuring that a military base was opened in Southern Kaduna along with two mobile police squadrons, answering a decades-long demand for enhanced security presence in the area.”
The statement said further that “in addition to security presence, peace requires that everyone should obey the rule of law and avoid self-help, because ultimately peace depends on the willingness of people to live in harmony and to settle their difference peacefully.”
According to el-Rufai, “attacks by bandits are not localised to a single part of the state”, noting that “these criminals attack people irrespective of their religion or ethnicity and they have been perpetrating their reign of terror in Giwa, Birnin Gwari and parts of Igabi local government.’’
“These bandits operate mostly in Katsina, Zamfara and Niger states and their attacks in those states are seen and reported as criminal activity, but these same attacks are perceived differently when they occur in Southern Kaduna and are invested with ethno-religious colourations,” he said.
He said further that “when bandits attack in Southern Kaduna, security reports show that youths from the affected communities have often responded by mobilising to attack Fulani communities in their area whose members share the same ethnicity with the presumed bandits, even though many Fulani communities are also themselves victims of the bandits, in Kaduna State and elsewhere.”
He noted that the problem was worsened by the response of Fulani communities who often resort to self-help when they were attacked, neglecting to report to traditional authorities or security agents to resolve the matter, opting instead for revenge.
“This is how the cycle of attacks, revenge and reprisals occurs in southern Kaduna”.
The governor who expressed sadness at the killings and the loss of lives and stressed the need for community leaders to emphasise adherence to the rule of law, to avoid the persistence of attacks and reprisals”.
The governor said the decision by the state government to impose 24 hour curfew imposed on Zangon Kataf and Kauru LGAs on June 11, 2020, was taken following the discovery of the corpse of a man from Kauru LGA who was resident in Zangon Kataf and the subsequent barricading of the highway and the burning of a vehicle with its occupants by some youths.
“It (the curfew) followed the discovery in Zangon Kataf of the corpse of a man from Kauru LGA who was resident in Zangon-Kataf.
“Subsequently, some youths barricaded roads and burnt a vehicle with its occupants. Security agencies had to use force to disperse them from the highway.
“Although the 5, June 2020 dispute over a farmland was between Atyap and the Hausa community in Zango, several Fulani settlements were attacked in the events of 11 June 2020, with people killed and houses burnt” the statement said.
El-Rufai explained that his administration decided to set up a White Paper Committee to draft the government’s position on the reports of the Justice Rahila Cudjoe Commission of Inquiry into the 1992 Zangon-Kataf crisis and the 1995 report of the AVM Usman Muazu Committee in order to find a permanent solution to these violent conflicts in Zangon-Kataf.
He said dispute over a farmland was identified as a trigger of the May 1992 crisis, and that such a dispute also flared up on June 5, 2020.
According to him, “the intervention of community leaders was believed to have contained tensions until violence broke out again on 11 June 2020.”
The statement maintained that “it is right for the government to initiate the White Paper process as part of a comprehensive approach to solve the problem in Zangon-Kataf LGA and restore peace in the area.”