New dilemma in killings in Southern Kaduna

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Killings in Southern Kaduna

It is unfortunate that the killings in Southern Kaduna are continuing despite the claims by the presidency that it is politically motivated, coupled with banditry deployed along ethnic and religious lines. Since the cause of the crisis is known to the authorities, it is tragic that the security services have been unable to stop the genocide

By Anayo Ezugwu

DANIEL Bala, 49, resident of Zikpak Village in Southern Kaduna, will not forget Friday, July 24, 2020, in a hurry. It was the day he escaped death by the whiskers. Bala was walking home after choir practice, when he was attacked by militia suspected to be herdsmen.

According to Bala, he was forced to take cover in a nearby yam farm, where he hid behind a ridge from the attackers, who had previously targeted farming communities like theirs in the region. “The shots came in from four different locations. Everybody in the community was running to the farms and forest. I saw two of the shooters, they wore black all over,” he said.

Apart from Bala, Joshua Buba, another survivor, recalled how he escaped death while returning home with his cousin. Buba said he and his cousin had gone to visit a friend in one of the villages and while returning, they saw people running in different directions. He said people were shouting, saying the attackers are near.

Buba and his cousin, Haruna, had to take cover inside a farm in the area. Haruna got hit by a bullet in the bush. “I thought we had hidden well in the farm, but unfortunately, a bullet hit my cousin on his left leg. We couldn’t come out from hiding. We were in the bush for three hours before the attackers left. And while we were going home, we saw different houses that were set ablaze by the attackers. My cousin is still nursing the injuries on his leg. Many people were wounded,” he said.

In the last one month, killings have been renewed in Southern Kaduna with harvest of deaths. For instance, On July 20, 21 persons were killed in Kukum Daji village in Kaura local government, and a day later, 11 others, including a village head and a six-year-old boy, were slaughtered in Gora Gan village, Zango-Kataf local government.

On July 24, 10 people were murdered in cold blood in Zipak village, Fanstwam Chiefdom, Jemaa local government. Likewise, on July 23, seven people were gruesomely murdered in Agwala Magayaki village in Kajuru local government. It was the second time in a month the village would come under attack.

Before Agwala Magayaki, it was Kizachi village, Chawai chiefdom, Kajuru local government where five people – the youngest, Jummai, a girl of nine years, and the oldest, 27-year-old Living Yohanna – were brutally murdered. Nobody is spared in the carnage – men, women, young and old, even children. It is that bad. None is immune to the deadly violence.

Available information to Realnews reveals that in just 72 hours, 23 Southern Kaduna natives were murdered in the most grisly manner with knives, daggers and machetes by marauders. These are human beings, not just statistics. Aside the dead, the attacks have created dire humanitarian crisis with many of the survivors living in the Internally Displace Persons, IDP camps.

This is not the first time this kind of killing of innocent citizens would be happening in Southern Kaduna. Realnews recalls that in 2016, more than 800 people were killed in the region by armed herdsmen. Prior to this killings in Southern Kaduna, it had been on since 2014, but worsen in August 2016. In November 2016, scores of people were killed in Godogodo and Ninte villages when the same suspected herdsmen invaded the villages. The bandits also razed down houses and farmlands.

As the onslaught continues, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has faulted the response of the federal and Kaduna State governments on the ongoing killings in Southern Kaduna. Samson Ayokunle, president, CAN, noted that the efforts of both federal and state governments are unacceptable.

Ayokunle said the ongoing crisis in Southern Kaduna in recent weeks with the attendant destruction of lives and property has clearly shown Nigeria as a nation that is at war against enemies of the state. He said despite assurances from both the federal and Kaduna State governments to nip the crisis in the bud, the spiraling of these assaults have indisputably shown that these demons of murders are yet to sheathe their swords against Southern Kaduna communities.

According to him, the government appears not to be sincere in walking the talk. “There is no doubt that the victims of these incessant assaults are indigenes of Kaduna State, who are mostly Christians. Why is it the predominantly Christian Southern Kaduna all the time? Don’t we have Northern Kaduna? While the senseless murder is not desirable in any part of the state of Nigeria, the continuous assault of the Southern Kaduna people has become highly suspicious and alarming.

“Only a fool or somebody, who is a party to this evil, would not know that there is something fishing. The leadership of CAN was flabbergasted when the presidency described the current bloodshed in Southern Kaduna as politically motivated coupled with banditry deployed along ethnic and religious lines. Where is the statistical evidence for that? Who are the politicians involved in this inhuman and callous act that the Federal authorities have failed to apprehend or name? Do they have the right to be doing this scot-free if it is true?”

Likewise, Reverend Stephen Panya, president, Evangelical Church Winning All, ECWA, has urged both the federal and Kaduna State governments to show more commitment to ending the ongoing killings in Southern Kaduna. He expressed ECWA’s concern over the continued killings and destruction of communities in the area, saying that it had become too much to bear.

“ECWA is calling on the Kaduna state government in particular, and the Federal Government to show more commitment and sincerity to ending the killings and secure the communities in Southern Kaduna. We appeal to the state government, the federal government, and humanitarian organisations to urgently reach out to these communities across the Local Government Areas (which people) are currently displaced,” Panya said.

But the federal government has attributed the killings to evil combination of politically-motivated banditry, revenge killings and mutual violence by criminal gangs acting on ethnic and religious grounds. Malam Garba Shehu, senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity, said the security challenges facing Southern Kaduna is more complicated than many critics are ready to acknowledge and understand.

“From available records, Southern Kaduna enjoys comprehensive security deployments, including the Army, Special Forces of both the Army and the Air Force, surveillance aircraft by the Air Force and mobile police units that are on the ground on a 24-hour basis to forestall criminality and keep the peace.

“But unlike other parts of the country, the problem of Southern Kaduna is more complicated than many critics are ready to acknowledge and understand. 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,” he said.

To restore peace in the area, Mohammed Adamu, Inspector General of Police, has ordered full enforcement of the curfew imposed on parts of Southern Kaduna by the state government. He said the curfew was part of efforts by the government to restore law and order in the affected areas.

“The CP is to ensure optimal deployment of human and material assets of the Intervention Squad currently on ground in the state to safeguard lives and property in the communities. He is to personally coordinate the operations of the Intervention Squad in carrying out collective and holistic tasks of ensuring peace and safety in the communities,” he said.

Likewise, Southern Kaduna Baptist Conference has called on the federal and state governments to seek divine intervention over the incessant killings in the region. Reverend Donald Arak, president of the conference, said the church would continue to pray for God to expose the sponsors and perpetrators of such ‘senseless killings.

“It is unfortunate that such killings keep occurring. We are so much touched by this ungodly act, and our prayer is that the Council and the entire people of Kaura will be comforted. We are praying that Lord God Almighty will intervene and fight this battle on our behalf, because we have no one else to turn to but him,” he said.

Be that as it may, the modern version of the crisis in Southern Kaduna began on March 6, 1987. It started as a minor internal misunderstanding among Muslim and Christian students of the College of Education, Kafanchan. The poor and partisan management of the issue saw it affecting other parts of the state. By the time the dust settled, many lives had been lost. The sheer ambivalence of the General Ibrahim Babangida administration in addressing the crisis, left many gaps that criminal elements are capitalising on today.

– Jul. 31, 2020 @ 16:29 GMT |

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