By Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna
The umbrella body of “Southern Kaduna Peoples’ Union, SOKAPU,” has called on President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and National Economic Council to include Kaduna State in the list of states to be visited by Governor Umahi-led Committee, in order to end the perpetual killings in not only Southern Kaduna, but also the Birnin-Gwari axis.
Mr. Yakubu Kuzamani, National Public Relations Officer of the Union, in a statement, said, “The attention of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) has been drawn to planned visits to states affected by the persistent herdsmen/farmers’ crises by a sub-committee set up by the National Economic Council (NEC).
“Surprisingly, Kaduna state, especially the southern axis, which has suffered greatly from attacks by armed herdsmen with no fewer than 1,000 of its inhabitants killed in more than 26 communities spread in Kauru, Sanga, Chikun, Kaura and Jema’a LGAs, is exempted from such a visit. These communities remain in their ruinous conditions, with billions of Naira needed to bring them to normal life.”
“According to a statement, dated February 1st , 2018, and signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Laolu Akande, in the office of the Vice President, the Federal Government, at a resumed sitting of the Working Group set up by the National Economic Council (NEC), on Herdsmen/Farmers’ violence in some parts of the country, constituted a Sub-Committee to visit frontline States involved in herdsmen/farmers’ conflict and hold consultations with stakeholders and interested parties on how to end the conflicts.”
The statement explained that the Sub-Committee, with Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State as chairman, according to the statement, is expected to visit Benue, Taraba, Zamfara and Adamawa States, in order to understand the different dynamics of the conflict and develop long-term workable solutions.
“SOKAPU is dumbfounded that Kaduna State, which was once the axis of horrendous killing fields where hundreds of people were murdered in cold blood by terrorists in several LGAs, has been schemed out of this visitation schedule that holds the prospects of ending this orgy of bloodshed.
“Presently, nothing has been done to bring these merchants of death to book. Just as our people were welcoming the New Year, the Paramount Ruler of the Bakulu people, His Royal Highness, Agwom Ikulu, Yohanna Sidi Kukah, was abducted by criminals suspected to be herdsmen and was only released after spending over a week in their custody.
“There is daily kidnapping of Southern Kaduna natives, and many communities have not had easy access to their farmlands since 2016; hence, poverty and hunger have become their companions.
“SOKAPU is also astounded that, despite the incessant killing of villagers in Birnin-Gwari in the eastern part of Kaduna state, the NEC did not deem it fit to include Kaduna State on the schedule of states to be visited. Just few days ago, reports on yet another killing between villagers and cattle rustlers in Birnin-Gwari attracted not just national, but international attention as well. SOKAPU is of the view that such killings that have gone on unperturbed for long need to be probed upon to find lasting solution.
“Despite the unremitting crises that have rocked various villages and towns in the southern axis of Kaduna state, the Kaduna state government has refused to either visit affected areas or reach out to critical stakeholders on how to end the crisis.
“The National Economic Council should have added Kaduna State first on its list, even if out of the curious relationship that Governor Nasir el-Rufai has established with murderers of Kaduna State citizens.
“According to the governor’s own account in December, 2016, the state government was able to locate and meet with the foreign killer herdsmen in their countries. However, instead of taking steps to bring them to book, he strangely paid them ‘compensation.’
“Curiously, that was the year that the mass murder and destruction of Southern Kaduna rural communities got to its peak. Despite the hues and cries of victims of these attacks, Governor e-Rufai has consistently ignored their cries and pains.
“It is weird that only victims of these attacks were arrested, while the killers continue to walk around freely. This is a claim that both the Federal Government and the National Economic Council ought to come to Kaduna state and verify.
“There are also some reports and recommendations of various commissions and committees set up by past and the present governments to look into violence for which Kaduna state has become notorious for. We expect the Umahi-led committee to visit Kaduna State and find out the best way out of the present quagmire.
“As an organisation that is representing no fewer than 53 ethnic groups in Southern Kaduna, SOKAPU sees the exemption of Kaduna State from list of states to be visited by the Umahi-led Sub-committee as a deliberate attempt to suppress the truth and misinform the rest of Nigerians and the entire world on these murderous attacks claimed by Governor el-Rufai as ‘reprisals.’
“We want the country and the world to note that Southern Kaduna communities have become victims of silent pogroms yet to be understood by Nigerians and the world. An inclusion of the state to be visited by the Governor Umahi-led Committee will avail critical stakeholders the opportunity to unearth the dynamics playing out in the deliberate ploy to exterminate our people.
“Let the Federal Government and NEC not be deceived: Southern Kaduna is still under invasion by armed herdsmen, and their antics are getting even bolder by the day. Just before the 2017 Christmas, two towns in Southern Kaduna were subjected to unprovoked attacks by suspected herdsmen that led to the death of 10 people and destruction of property. These attacks were on December 22 and December 24, 2017.
“Few hours to the close of 2017, a paramount ruler in Sanga Local Government Area, with his pregnant wife, were killed and his residence set ablaze,” SOKAPU explained.