Southern Kaduna: The Quest for Lasting Peace and Reconciliation

0

John Shiklam writes that fresh hostilities are threatening the peace efforts among warring communities in Southern Kaduna

After so much bloodshed and destructions, warring communities in the Southern part of Kaduna state are taking bold steps towards ending the incessant killings.
In the past three months or so, Southern Kaduna was the the epicentre for mindless killings and destruction of property by criminal elements who invaded communities in Zangon Kataf, Kauru, Kaura, Jama’a, Kajuru and Chikun Local Government Areas of the state to wreck havoc.

Hundreds of people, mostly, women and children were slaughtered, maimed or hacked to death.
Many communities have been sacked by invaders. Thousands of those whose homes were destroyed relocated to the Internally Displaced People’s (IDP) camps.
Hundreds of those who sustained injuries during the attacks are still receiving medical treatment in various hospitals in Kaduna state and the neighbouring Jos, the Plateau state capital.

Socio-economic activities in the area was disrupted as a result of hostilities among the communities.
The killings were widely condemned by many groups and individuals across the country.
In the past few weeks, the communities had been engaged in “dialogue and reconciliation facilitated by the Atyap Traditional Council and the Nigeria Christian Pilgrims Commission in conjunction with “Friends of Southern Kaduna.
The dialogues led to agreements and signing of peace accord aimed at promoting harmonious coexistence among the warring groups.

It was heart warming to see representatives of the warring groups discussing, making commitment to embrace peace.
The first peace initiative was convened in Angwan Wakili on August 22, 2020,
by the Atyap Traditional Council in Zangon Kataf LGA, headed by the Agwatyap, His Royal Highness, Sir Dominic Gambo.
The “peace and reconciliation submit” was attended by the representatives of the Atyap, Hausa and Fulani communities in the area.

The meeting was co-chaired by Air Vice Ishaya Shekari, a former military governor of Kano state and Dr. Salim Umar.
The event provided an opportunity for warring groups to speak out their minds on problems that have remained a stumbling block to peaceful coexistence in the area.
Some of the issues that dominated the submissions of the three groups include the indigenes/settler question, lack of trust among the three communities and the preponderance of lawlessness among the youths.

In their submission, the Hausa and Fulani communities, maintained that their fore fathers had all live lived in southern Kaduna for many years, yet they were not considered “non indigenes or settlers” in Southern Kaduna.
Hon. Yakubu Bature, who spoke for the Hausa community said the settler/ indigene dichotomy should be removed to give everybody a sense of belonging and brotherhood.

Bature, a former councillor in Zangon Kataf LGA, said, it was unfortunate that, “I want to speak in my capacity as a Hausa indigene of Zango Urban. There cannot be peace if we don’t stand by the truth. There cannot be peace unless we respect each other. There cannot be peace unless I accept you as an indigene.
“If you agree that I am an indigene, then both of us have a stake. There cannot be peace if we condone and protect criminal elements in our midst. We must learn to forgive each other.”
Also in his submission, Bayero Ibrahim, spokesman of the Kaduna State Chapter of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), said the Fulanis had lived in Southern Kaduna for many years, but they were being referred to as non indigenes.

“I was born in Malagun, but today they said we Fulani indigenes of southern Kaduna are settlers. We must ask ourselves questions about what has happened to us,” he said.
Bayero said for peace to reign, everybody must be truly committed towards working for lasting peace.
Also speaking on behalf of the Fulani community in Zangon Kataf, Dr. Ahmed Yande complained about the indigene/ settler dichotomy, noting that it does not help in integrating communities.
He said his great grand parents had been in Southern Kaduna for many years, but he is being referred to as non indigene.
Yanden who speaks the Atyap language very fluently, advocated for a blue print for the promotion of lasting peace among the warring communities.

Also speaking for the Atyap community, Prof. Lucius Bamaiyi, called for genuine repentant and reconciliation among the communities for peace to reign.
Bamaiyi who is the President of Atyap Community Development Association (ACDA) recalled the good old days when everybody saw each other as a brother.
“Let me go down memory lane, in the early 1970s, before you could be admitted to secondary school you must pass the common entrance and the interview.

“A lot of our children will pass the common entrance but when it gets to the interview, because they could not speak English very well, they failed the interview.
“Alhaji Mato of blessed memory, helped a lot of our children to get admission to secondary schools.
“We want a situation where we will live in peace as we used to do. We were writing and accusing each other during the crisis, now that we have all agreed that we have injured one another, let us embrace each other, forgive one another and go back to the way we used to live,” he said.

Bamaiyi said further, “if we are genuinely repentant as we have all said here, then we must turn a new leave. I want to beg of us that there are always sentiments, let us try to manage our sentiments.
“I am speaking on behalf of Atyap to say that we are willing to live in peace with the Fulani and Hausa communities and every other person that is resident in Atyap land.
“But all of us will have to make this same commitment and mean it. Let it come from our hearts,” Maigari said.
He also decried the indigene settler issue, but blamed the government for promoting it.
He said government always insists on indigeneship, especially, when it comes to employment opportunities and admission in schools.

”Everybody here spoke about indigene /settler. The Atyap are also being discriminated against on the basis that we are non indigenes in other places.
“All my children were given birth in Zaria, but if they go to look for indigene certificate in Zaria, they will tell them that they are settlers and they denied them,” he said.

Maigari stressed, “Even in Sabon Gari, that is supposed to be no man’s land, when they go there, they tell them that they are not indigenes.
“So I am pleading with people in government, if we are removing the clause for indigenisation, then we should stop talking of indigenisation certificate.
“If we insists on that, then people resident in a particular LGA are indigenes and therefore, qualify for the indigene certificate.

“We have suffered discrimination as indigenes of Zangon Kataf”.
At the end of the meeting, leaders of the ommunities who signed an agreement for peace and reconciliation expressed
regrets over the avoidable loss of lives and the destruction of properties and tendered heartfelt sympathy and condolences and “urged that we wholly and heartily forgive and forget.”

The resolutions was signed by the representatives of the Hausa, Atyap and Fulani communities as well as the two Co-chairs of the meeting.
The communities resolved and agreed among other things that: “no amount of revenge, bitterness, calumny, hatred or name calling can bring back those who have lost their lives in these senseless and unnecessary blood lettings.

“That residents of the Chiefdom should diligently monitor their environment henceforth and to report any strange movement, stranger or criminal activities to the appropriate authorities.
“That residents of the Chiefdom must not take laws into their hands and in any situation whatsoever, rather submit all grievances or crimes to security agencies, mediation, arbitration or litigation in courts.

“That Hausa, Fulani and Atyap
youths must not mount road blocks anywhere in the Chiefdom with their symbolic embrace for peace. “
The meeting recommended the establishment of a standing peace committee that should comprise of Hausa, Fulani and Atyap and their youth in the Chiefdom to organize robust engagement/dialogue on security issues.
They also appealed to the state and federal governments to fast track the
introduction of community policing to boost security of lives and properties
in the Chiefdom and the country at large.

Few days after, a similar reconciliation meeting was held in Kafanchan between Dangoma community in Kaninkon Chiefdom and Takau in Zipak Chiefdom, Jema’a Local Government Area of the state, on September 5, 2020.
The two groups resolved to bring an end to the wanton destruction of lives and property in the area and promote peaceful coexistence.

Peter Averik, Chairman of Jama’a LGA, said the peace deal was brokered following series of dialogue between the two communities.
“We met and deliberated successfully on the way forward and, thankfully, the two communities resolved to sheath their swords and give peace a chance.
“This is a milestone for us and we want to use this opportunity to let the world know that we want peace and we are for peace,” he said.
The council chairman said, further that the communities agreed to always resort to all available lawful means of settling disputes.

“They have agreed that all issues be resolved through the appropriate channels. They have also pledged to be their brother’s keeper and protect each other’s property in the event of any eventuality or unforseen circumstances,” Averik said.
Leaders of both communities including the youths, also expressed the hope that the peace pact would put an end to the mindless bloodletting in the area, vowing that all trouble makers in their midst, who violated the pact, would be fished out and made to face the full wrath of the law.
The state governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai commended all the communities for towing the path of dialogue, peace and reconciliation.

The peace process also received a boost when the governor, on September 1, 2020, inaugurated the “House of Kaduna Family” a body made up of selected Muslim and Christian leaders to help end the ethno-religious crisis in the state.
Speaking at the inauguration, el-Rufai said the 22 member body comprising prominent christian and muslim leaders was convened to provide a platform for leaders of faith, to dialogue, interact and assume collective responsibility for messages that assist people of faith to live up to the highest ideals of the two main religions as peaceful, law abiding citizens.
“It is our view that the diversity of faith can be a vehicle for unity when adherents respect the right of every human being to life, liberty and livelihood, as creatures of God” the governor said.

He noted that “religious fervour is a common trait among Nigerians, yet, the legacy of communal and ethnoreligious conflict in our state betrays the absence not only of respect for the rule of law but also any adherence to the common values of our two dominant religions – which are peace, compassion and fairness to others.”
El-Rufai, expressed the confidence that religious leaders will help their faithfuls to consciously practise their values.
“Belief in God ought to compel people of faith to cherish a common humanity, and to stand up for everybody, not just the people with whom they share a common religion” the governor said.

He said in the last five years, the state government spent billions of naira, supporting, equipping and sustaining federal security agencies to improve the situation in the state.
El-Rufai said the state government looks forward to the contributions of the religious leaders in helping advance peace and harmony in communities “so that it can be said of us that we live in concord because we are religious.”
The three- day peace submit by the Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission (NCPC), in collaboration with “friends of Southern Kaduna”, which held in Kafanchan, Jama’a LGA, between September 8 – 10, 2020, was the largest gathering of stakeholders to discuss the way forward for lasting peace in Southern Kaduna.
However, three key stakeholders, the Kaduna State chapter of the Christian Association (CAN), the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) and the Southern Kaduna Christian Leaders’ Association, boycotted the event on the grounds that stakeholders were not carried along.

In a communique issued at the end of the summit participants observed among other issues, that the incessant killings, kidnapping, cattle rustling and shielding of criminals were the major challenges among communities.
The summit also noted the “extreme poverty in the land arising from unemployment and limited opportunities
The communique stated that “the issue of settler/indigene is a major concern to the efforts aimed at building peace in Southern Kaduna.”
The communique, signed by Prof. Abdullahi Ashafa​​​​ and Rev. Sunday Agang also noted the gap in communication leading to mutual distrust and suspicion among the diverse communities in Southern Kaduna.
The communique said incessant occupation of communities and farmlands during conflicts without returning the communities to the rightful owners is an impediment to peace.

The communique called for the immediate cessation of killings, attacks, kidnappings and cattle rustlings and advocated for a collaborative, economic activities for peoples of Southern Kaduna.
It urged the communities to “avoid any action or utterances that make people feel they don’t belong.” It called for deliberate efforts to wards recognising and celebrating diversity.
Summit resolved to convey ts observations and other serious issues responsible for the persistent violence in a letter to be written to the federal and state governments.
Though communities in Southern Kaduna desperately desire to live in peace, their reactions to the ongoing peace talks had been a mixed grill with some of them expressing reservations about genuine peace and reconciliation while others expressed optimism that lasting peace could be achieved.

One of those who is confident that lasting peace could be achieved is Bayero Ibrahim, the MACBAN, spokesman.
According to him, the peace summit would bring about peace and harmony among the communities.
“We have high hope that if these peace meetings are sustained, it will bring about lasting peace in our communities,” he said in an interview with THISDAY.
However, the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), while commending the efforts aimed at ensuring peaceful coexistence, said the steps being adopted may not bring about true reconciliation and lasting peace.
According to Luka Binniyat, spokesman of SOKAPU, achieving peace in Southern Kaduna is not a difficult thing.
He however said the Governor Nasir el-Rufai has a cardinal role to play in the peace process.

According to Binniyat, “the governor’s spoken partisanship, bias and his clear hatred for the people of southern Kaduna, is what is giving fuel to our long time guests.”
Binniyat maintained that, “El-Rufai really needs to reconcile with the people of Southern Kaduna to heal the wounds.
“He has insulted Southern Kaduna leaders, including our clerics. He said many hurtful things, he has not apologised. So the governor should also make efforts to reconcile with the southern Kaduna people.

“The governor claimed that our people organised the killings so that they will get money from government. The healing process will even be more if he comes around to apologise. His apology will bring about a lot of relief.” Binniyat said the solution to enduring peace in southern Kaduna is to ensure justice and fairness to all.
He said the peace and reconciliation summit was a welcome development, stressing, stating however that such efforts could only achieve the desired goals if the real issues behind the killings are addressed.

Besides, he maintained that, the real victims of the crisis whose loved ones were killed and their homes and property destroyed were not being carried along in the peace process, insisting that
for any genuine reconciliation to be achieved, the victims of the attacks must be represented.
“We believe that so long as the genuine stakeholders are being sidelined and some political jobbers who are removed from the issues are the ones handling the so called peace submit, what you will get in the end is rhetorics and no genuine reconciliation may be achieved,” Binniyat said.
According to him, many of the victims of the attacks were still at the Internally Displaced Peoples (IDP) camps while others are still being treated in the hospitals.

He said: “These people have been rendered homeless, they have no means of livelihood, you have not visited them, you have not rendered any help to them and you are bringing outsiders who don’t understand the situation to discuss peace for them!
“The process of returning displaced people to their communities must start. “Those who sacked them and took over their land by force, must be chased out.
“Even if the killings stop and the people cannot be given back their homes, there will be problems. There must be some measure of compensation to the victims.
Binniyat further alleged that “Certain government policies don’t promote peaceful coexistence, but promote anger and division among the people”.

He said “For example, nearly half of Kaduna state is Zazzau Enioe ñMlmirate, but you come to Adara land in Kajuru LGA and abolished Adara Chiefdom and created an emirate.
“You went to places like Kauru, which is diminantly populated by christians and you created an emirate.
“What is more inciting than that? So government must stop being partial. We have people in Zaria who have settled there for many years. Some of them have even become Muslims, but they are never identified as indigenes.

“We also have Hausa Christians in Ikara, Kubau, Makarfi and other places, why are they not given Chiefdoms like the Hausa/Fulani that the governor created emirate for them in Kajuru and other places?
“We are very keen about lasting peace in our communities, but we are saying that the process must be holistic, the issues should be addressed. Let there be justice for the victims.”
Recent developments, however, seemed to be posing a serious threat to achieving genuine peace and reconciliation among the warring groups.

For instance, barely two weeks after the peace accord in Zango Kataf LGA, SOKAPU and MACBAN started trading words over fresh attacks on both sides.
According to SOKAPU three people were killed in fresh attacks on Manyi-Mashin and Kitsarapang communities in Zangon Kataf and Kauru Local Government Areas.

The attacks on Manyi-Mashin, Kauru LGA was said to have taken place on September 11, 2020 while the that of
on Manyi-Mashin , led to the death of two people who were burnt beyond recognition.
SOKAPU in a statement said many houses were also burnt adding that although men of Operation Safe Heaven promptly responded, the gunmen fled before their arrival.
The statement signed by Binniyat alleged that “armed Fulani armed were responsible for the attacks.
Binniyat also said farmers in Gora axis of Atyap Chiefdom also complained that Fulanis occasionally sneak into their farms to destroy large swath of growing food crops.

The statement regretted that “All these gory development is taking place after a much publicised peace deal was reached between natives of Atyap Chiefdom on one side and the Hausa and Fulani representatives on August 23, 2020 in Unguwan Wakili, Zangon Kataf LGA.
“SOKAPU wishes to once again request the Federal Government, through Operation Safe Heaven, under the Command of Major General Chukwu Emeka Okonkwo, to expatiate action and expel and bring to book all the Fulani militia that are currently occupying 101 communities in four LGAs in Southern Kaduna, ” the statement said.

It appealed to the youths to shun all forms of provocation and avoid taking the laws into their hands.
Also, the Kaduna state chapter of MACBAN, raised the alarm over the killing of four Fulani pastoralists on September 9, 2020, in Sagwaza and Kurmin Masara, Zango Kataf LGA “by suspected criminals in Atyap Chiefdom.”
The group in a statement by its spokesman Bayero Ibrahim also disclosed that on September 8, 2020 “some innocent Fulanis were attacked at Sagwaza by some suspected Atyap criminals during which one Malam Hassan and his son, Musa Hassan were injured and taken to a private hospital in Zonkwa Zangon LGA for treatment.

The statement read, “The most unfortunate thing about the incidents is that they took place when the Agwatyap (Chief of Kataf) was holding a meeting with some Fulani representatives who fled the area during the crises of June 11th, 12th and 13th 2020 in the area.
“We condemn this unprovoked attacks by these Atyap criminal elements who are hell bent on sabotaging the peace processes in the area.

“All these attacks happened after the peace treaty was reached and signed by all the warring tribes of Hausa, Fulani and Atyap during the one -day summit on peace and reconciliation organised by the traditional ruler.
“We are appealing to the perpetrators of these attacks to, in the interest peace refrain from these breaches of the peace accord that was reached and respect their leaders and parents who are working day and night to restore peace, law and order in the area.
“We know there are very peaceful Atyap people and we shall continue to work with them to restore total peace to southern kaduna.
“We are calling on the security agencies and Kaduna State Government to ensure that the perpetrators of these attacks are brought to the book and be punished accordingly.

MACBAN urged Fulani pastoralists to continue living in peace and report any suspicious movement to security agencies,
as well as give maximum cooperation in order to restore lasting peace.
The group, while condemning the attack on Manyi Mashin community, disassociated itself from the attack.
“We are calling on the good people of Southern Kaduna both Muslims and Christians who are involved in peace building to remain focused and resolute,” MACBAN appealed.

In 2016, similar efforts by the Swiss-based non governmental organisation, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD), was truncated after several months of working with communities in Sanga, Kachia, Kaura, Zangon Kataf and Jema’a LGAs, which were ravaged by massive killings and destruction.
The HD, having facilitated peace among warring communities in Plateau state, painstakingly brought stakeholders from communities affected by the 2016 mayhem to a round table.

The outcome of their work was the “Kafanchan Peace Declaration” of March 23, 2016.
In all, 29 ethnic groups from the five affected LGAs, including the Hausas and Fulanis, participated in the process that eventually led to their signing of an agreement for peace coexistence.
Governor Nasir El-Rufai and, his Plateau state counterpart, Mr. Simon Lalong, signed the Peace Declaration as official observers.

To further demonstrate the resolve of the people to live in peace, a billboard “signifying understanding, peace and unity” among the various ethnic groups was
erected strategically at Samarun Kataf Junction on November 12, 2016.
However, a day after the billboard was launched by Governor el-Rufai, it was pulled down by angry youths, following the killing of 30 people in a bloody attack by “unknown gunmen” in Kauru LGA .
The HD was highly disappointed over the unfortunate incident and the collapse of the peace declaration.
But the NGO made far reaching recommendations to the state government on the way forward to addressing the issues that cause crisis.

This is in addition to the various recommendations of the numerous panels and commission of inquiries set up by past and present administration.
It is believed that if the recommendations of these panels were implemented, perhaps, it would have reduced the growing mistrust and friction among the warring groups.

Above all, justice, equity and fairness are the essentials of peace and harmony in any society, for peace does not thrive in the midst of injustice.
The authorities must bring all those responsible for the mayhem to book to ensure justice for victims of the mayhem, many of who loss their love ones and have been rendered homeless.

QUOTE
Three key stakeholders, the Kaduna State chapter of the Christian Association (CAN), the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) and the Southern Kaduna Christian Leaders’ Association, boycotted the event on the grounds that stakeholders were not carried along. In a communique issued at the end of the summit participants observed among other issues, that the incessant killings, kidnapping, cattle rustling and shielding of criminals were the major challenges among communities