Gover Ramalan Yero
Fear of reprisal grips residents Mark condemns killings
Omololu Ogunmade and John Shiklam
The Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), the umbrella body of ethnic nationalities in the Christian-dominated southern Kaduna, has declared that the people of the area have no option other than to defend themselves against the barbaric killings in the area.
This came just as the Governor of the state, Alhaji Ramalan Yero, yesterday cut short his foreign trip to the United States of America where he was supposed to attend an international summit on security.
Addressing a news conference yesterday at the secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Kaduna, President of SOKAPU, Dr. Ephraim Goje, said the people had been patient enough thinking that government would address the situation, declaring that the frequent killings in the area was a clear indication that the government and the security agencies had failed in protecting communities in the area.
He said the people were being pushed to the wall as they were being killed and their homes and properties being destroyed and it has become imperative for them to defend themselves by whatever means since the government and security agencies have failed in their duties to ensure their security.
“What comes to our minds now is that, truly, the Fulanis have unofficially declared war on our people. Let it be placed on record that no community has the monopoly of violence, so our people are being pushed to a level that we may take certain actions aimed at defending ourselves and our land in order to put an end to this impunity,” the SOKAPU President warned.
Goje disclosed that over 5,000 people had been displaced in 40 attacks on communities in the southern part of the state since 2011. He maintained that in all the attacks, “we have identified the perpetrators as Fulani herdsmen as being responsible, but each time we raise this observation, the Fulani socio-cultural organisations in the state always the involvement of their people asking for proofs.”
According to the SOKAPU President, two Fulani youths in Manchok led Saturday’s attack, which led to the killing of 119 people, adding that the Fulani youths died in the process and their corpses were identified by the local people.
“The recent attack was led by two well known young Fulanis resident in Manchock town who died in the process. Their dead bodies have clearly and unambiguously been identified by the natives and their corpses are now kept by the Joint Task Force (JTF) Command in Kafanchan for further forensic screening.
“This has clearly vindicated us and it confirms our earlier position that the Fulanis have declared a Jihad on the people of Southern Kaduna and Nigeria, evidenced by this genocide in Bondong, the murder at Katsina State, Birnin Gwari, Plateau, Zamfara, Taraba, Benue State.
“In some of these attacks, suspects had been arrested and handed over to security agencies for prosecution only for the culprits to be seen working freely on the streets the next day,” Goje state.
He lamented the lack of collaboration between security agencies in Kaduna and Plateau States, noting that the attackers often come in from the Plateau axis to attack Atakar and Marwa chiefdoms which are bordering Plateau State, adding that each time they are chased by security agents from Kaduna State, they run to the Plateau State where they work freely celebrating their so-called victories.
The group also called on the federal government to urgently consider the establishment of an army unit within the radius of 25 kilometres of Kafanchan Town so they can respond quickly to all security challenges in that area.
“Presently, we have over 5000 internally displaced persons who require rehabilitation and compensation from government especially that their houses, food stuffs were completely burned down by these monstrous murderers. This request is very urgent now that the rain is beginning to set in.
“We are asking the government of Kaduna State to also, as a matter of urgency, implement the recommendations of the panel of enquiries set up to investigate communal and religious crisis including the one submitted by the Peace and Reconciliation Community set up by late Sir, Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, the former Governor of Kaduna State, following the 2011 post-election crisis.
In another development, there was tension in Kaduna metropolis yesterday following rumours of reprisals in some parts of the city over the killings in Kaura Local Government Area.
Many residents of the city were gripped by fear and restricted their movements to their immediate environment in case of any eventuality. Commercial vehicles and motorcycles also deserted some parts of the city for fear of being attacked. The Kaduna State police command in a statement warned those spreading such unfounded rumours, saying there was no crisis in any part of the city and urged residents to be law abiding and go about their normal activities.
The statement which was signed by the spokesman of the command, Aminu Lawan, a Superintendent of Police (SP), said adequate security measures had been taken to ensure law and order and urged residents to remain calm.
Meanwhile the Kaduna State governor, Yero, yesterday abandoned a scheduled official assignment in the US and returned to the country when he received news of the killings in communities in Kaura Local Government Area of the state.
The governor, according to a statement by his Director General on Media and Publicity, Mallam Ahmed Maiyaki, was already in the United Kingdom enroute the US to attend a symposium on peace and security in Northern Nigeria, organised by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) when he was informed of the incident.
Meanwhile, Senate President, Senator David Mark, yesterday condemned in strong terms the killings in three villages in Southern Kaduna at the weekend.
He also condoled with the families of those who lost their lives at the recruitment exercise of the Nigerian Immigration Service NIS), describing their death as tragic.
Mark, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, described the resurgence of killings in Kaduna as shocking, saying those behind the killings were senseless.
He also reiterated that there is no alternative to dialogue.
“The killings of innocent Nigerians in this attack is barbaric. It is saddening and worrisome that in this present age some set of people will engage in mass killing of their fellow country men as an expression of grievances.
“This dastardly act of these insurgent must be stopped at all costs. Government will not fold its hands and watch the murder of innocent Nigerians in the hands of faceless and wicked people.
“The federal government will continue to mobilise our military in combat till this insurgency is swept off our nation,”
While condoling with the families of applicants who lost their lives on Saturday, Mark described their death as very painful as he commiserated with the families of the victims and pray God to grant them the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.
He assured Nigerians that the National Assembly would continue to work on legislation that would improve the lives of every Nigerian.