•Begs citizens to embrace lawful means of resolving grievances
By John Shiklam
The Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai has expressed optimism that the Special Forces deployed in the southern part of the state yesterday would help to end the senseless killings and restore peace in the area.
The Forces approved by the Defence Headquarters, arrived Kafanchan in the morning ahead of their deployment to the various Kaduna flashpoints today.
Addressing the Forces that arrived the Sector 7 Headquarters of Operation Safe Haven in Kafanchan (OPSH) in the morning, the Kaduna State governor said he was pleased with their deployment.
The governor, who was represented by the Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, said the state government would continue to place a premium on security as the backbone of sustainable development.
“We came to formally welcome you to Kaduna State and to Southern Kaduna in particular after your induction. You are courageous and outstanding officers who have done well in Faskari, Batsari and other flash points in the country,” the governor said.
He said he was optimistic that the Special Forces would do well in consolidating the gains already achieved by soldiers, police and other security agencies in the affected areas.
The governor said: “Beyond the boots on the ground, the Kaduna State Government is conducting series of engagements with traditional rulers, religious leaders, community leaders, civil society and other agencies, and we are making progress.
“Our consistent appeal is recourse to the law. No one should take the law into his or her own hands. Failure to recourse to the law only worsens the situation at hand, and as such, citizens must resort to available lawful means for arbitration and amicable resolution of grievances.”
The governor called on non-state actors, especially residents of the affected communities to give their maximum support to the troops during the period of the operation through intelligence sharing mechanism.
He expressed gratitude to the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Olonisakin and the service chiefs, as well as the Commander of the Operation Safe Heaven for their immense commitment in containing the situation.
Reacting to the deployment of the Special Forces, spokesman of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), Luka Binniyat, said it was a welcome development.
He said with the arrival of the troops, the people expect that the 24-hour curfew, imposed on them over two months ago, would be reviewed so that they could go out in search of their means of livelihood.
He also called for the expulsion of the bandits who have taken over some communities in Southern Kaduna.
Binniyat said: “The deployment of troops is a welcome development. We hope that this will bring an end to the invasion of our communities resulting in brutal killings and destruction of property.
“With the arrival of the troops, we expect the curfew imposed over two months ago to be relaxed for our people to commence economic activities.
“We wish to state however that it is not enough to deploy troops, there must be the political will to allow them do their work. We expect our lands that had been taken over by Fulani militias to be returned to the owners who were chased away.
“For example in Zangang District (Atakad Chiefdom) in Kaura LGA, eight communities were overrun by these militias who took over the place. We expect the military to expel them so that the people can return to their homes.
“We also expect that the 15 communities in Kajuru LGA – Kallah and Rimau wards taken over by Fulani militia in the past three months should be recovered.
“The Fulani leaders who masterminded the attacks and who are well known to the villagers should be investigated and prosecuted We are grateful for this kind of massive deployment of troops, but it will mean nothing if there is no political will to use them for effective results.”
The southern part of Kaduna State has been under siege for years by rampaging gunmen who kill, maim and burnt houses.
In the past two months, communities in Zangon Kataf, Kauru, Kaura and Jama’a Local Government Areas have been under constant attacks by gunmen believed to be Fulani militia.
The state government had imposed a 24-hour curfew in the four LGAs to stop the killings, but the attacks continued despite the curfew.
The latest of the killings took place on Wednesday, August 5, 2020, when 33 people were killed in five communities in Zangon LGA.
The killings have been widely condemned by groups and individuals, including human rights orginsations across the country.
Hundreds of people, mostly women and children, were said to have been killed following the attacks, which El-Rufai and the Presidency said, were caused by reprisals.
Thousands of people have been rendered homeless with many of them currently at the various camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).