Kaliboi Sidi, who lives in Southern Kaduna, speaks to Anayo Ezugwu, staff writer, Realnews, in a telephone interview about the crisis that ravaged the area, accusing the state government of not securing the people because they did not vote for him. Excerpts:
Realnews: What is the situation on ground?
Sidi: The situation now is calm. I had the privilege of being in Southern Kaduna precisely on December 30, 2016, and I actually went as far as Kaburo but I didn’t go to Kafanchan because there was curfew in that area. I think the media especially the social media hyped the whole thing such that if you read the stories it seems as if there is war in Southern Kaduna. It is not actually like that because right inside my village I saw Fulani people with their cows there and nobody attacked them. The way the media is going about it is not really what it is.
Realnews: You said you visited on December 30, have people started returning home?
Sidi: Returning home in what sense?
Realnews: We learnt that people abandoned their homes for safety when herdsmen attacked the villages?
Sidi: Let me tell you something, this crisis is mostly on the border towns. It has nothing to do with the city centres. People that have been attacked are people living at the borders between Southern Kaduna and Nasarawa, Southern Kaduna and Jos, and Southern Kaduna and Federal Capital. Those are the people that have been attacked. Instead of taking the security (mobile police and military) into those border towns the governor decided to choke the city with military personnel making life difficult for the people. That was why we had the attack of December 24. People were afraid to return home during the festive period because their homes were not safe for them. It was a low key Christmas and New Year celebration for the people of Southern Kaduna.
Realnews: Do you think that the deployment of military will help to resolve the issues now?
Sidi: You see most of these issues are media hype because it was all over the media about the military deployment but I went through Kafanchan I saw some of them but the crisis is not in Kafanchan. The problem is in those border towns; they are the areas that are being attacked. If the government really wants to deploy military they should send them to those places and not send them into the city centre.
Realnews: So there is no military on ground now?
Sidi: I have not seen them until they send them to the right spot. As far as they are in Kafanchan it’s a misplacement of priorities. That is not where they should be.
Realnews: What role is the state government playing in this matter?
Sidi: What I have to say over this Southern Kaduna crisis is that the government has failed in protecting the people of the area. And I see it as a game plan by the government because they are not sincere in intervening in the whole situation. This crisis had been on for a long time and successive governments in the state had been able to actually work with the people and provide adequate security but this present government has decided to keep mute about it and allow these criminals to kill innocent people. To me if they say Fulani herdsmen, I don’t really see them as harmful as people say probably they are not those that are being used to perpetuate these acts because as I told you I saw Fulani people in my village. So who are these Fulani people killing the people?
I feel that the government of the day has actually failed simply because the governor hate people of Southern Kaduna and decided to cut them away probably because they didn’t vote for him. But that is not an issue because this is democracy. If Southern Kaduna decided to vote for a particular candidate it is not a crime. President Buhari was not voted for by entire Nigerians but he is still the President of Nigeria. So the governor is the governor of Kaduna State so he should take care of everybody.
El-Rufai is not actually concerned about what is happening in Southern Kaduna. To me he is the one causing the crisis because if he decides to stop the crisis today he can stop it. When he imposed curfew in Southern Kaduna, after visiting the area and was attacked by the people because they feel he has failed to intervene in the crisis. So because he was attacked he decided to punish the people by imposing 24-hour curfew and everybody suffered be you Christian or Muslim. Let it be clear that what is going on in Southern Kaduna because it is not only Christians that are there. When the talk of Southern Kaduna it’s as if it’s only Christians that are there, we have the Muslims, Hausas, and Fulanis are there as well.
Markets were closed and banks’ ATMs were not working because I was there I withdrew money from Kaduna before travelling. If not that I don’t know how I would have survived because when I was coming back I had to even rescue some other people that were stranded because they could not use their ATM to withdraw money. There was no bank that was functional even before Christmas. The entire ATMs in Kafanchan were not functional. I saw them. So it was actually difficult whether you are a Fulani or whoever you are. A lot of people were bringing money from outside the area, if you are coming from Kaduna, Abuja or Jos you make withdrawal before coming in. So you can see how difficult it was for people.
Realnews: What is the way forward out this crisis?
Sidi: The way forward is for the governor to act because he is the chief security officer of the state. For instance, if this crisis happens in Makarfi local government, which is Muslim and Hausa dominated, what do you think will happen? The governor would have deployed full military personnel in that area but because it was not happening in a place like that that is why the governor is less concerned. The governor needs to wake up and do the needful. Quote me there is no Christian all over world that can take arms and attack non-Christians. It’s normally the Christians who are protesting against injustice and other social vices. There is no Southern Kaduna man that has ever taking arms to attack any non-Christian in the area.
(Second Cover Interview)
Ebongabasi Ekpe-Juda, security analyst, speaks to Anayo Ezugwu, staff writer, Realnews on the crisis in Southern Kaduna and the way out. Excerpts:
Realnews: What do you think about the crisis in Southern Kaduna?
Ekpe-Juda: I think that the position of Mr President is unthinkable. His silence is unacceptable and I think it doesn’t speak well of him as a father. You cannot be a father of the nation and one part of the nation is burning and you keep quiet and say nothing and do nothing about it. That was the kind of thing that characterised the initial happenings with Boko Haram and mostly when the president has shown favouritism towards his religion it now looks as if he approved what is happening. That is the impression he is giving to people and its rather very unfortunate impression. It is obvious that no country in the world can survive any religious crisis and Nigeria cannot survive it either. The president should act promptly.
Realnews: Do you think that the deployment of military now will help in resolving this crisis?
Ekpe-Juda: I’m not thinking that way unless there is a change of attitude by the military. Have you not seen military being deployed and they went to support a particular group or religion involved in the crisis? We have seen this in this country, unless they do something that is expected of them.
Realnews: The federal government and the CAN and the Catholic body in the country are fighting over whether the crisis is religious war or not. Comment?
Ekpe-Juda: What would you expect from a federal government that is biased in favour of Islam? They would like to deceive people that it is not a religious genocide but this is a religious war. We know it because being in this country we know religious war. They should stop taking us for a fool. How can someone be talking to us that it’s not a religious war, how many Muslims have they killed in that place.
— Jan 16, 2017 @ 01:00 GMT