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KADUNA KILLINGS: Survivors narrate ordeals

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KADUNA KILLINGS: Survivors narrate ordeals

At the last count not less than 200 persons had been killed and another 10, 000 mainly women and children had been displaced from their homes. Many of these people even have their houses burnt and demolished by attackers that the state government said were bandits and the survivors on their part insisted were Fulani herdsmen. Presently there are three recognizable Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Kajuru and neighbouring Chikun Local Government Area of the state, Maraban Kajuru and Kufana and Sabon Tasha in Chikun Local Government Area. At the Saint Gerald Catholic Hospital, Kakuri-Kaduna, our correspondent gathered that over 17 seriously injured persons were brought to the hospital when the attack took place, but 10 had been treated and discharged.

THE ATTACKERS SET FIRE TO THE TOILET I HID MYSELF

Narrating his ordeal a 67-year-man Sarki Zana from Karamai village who had his legs, hands and some parts of his face burnt and is still on his sick bed in Saint Gerald said, the attackers set ablaze the toilet house where he was hiding and left him for dead. He also said that his aged mother was the first person that was shot dead when the gunmen invaded their compound and all of them took to their heels because she was unable to run. Zana said: “It was very early in the morning when we were preparing for church and others were already in the church. We heard gunshot and people started running in all directions. “As we were trying to call everybody from the house to run out and hide, some of the attackers came into our compound. By then many of my people had run towards the back of the house. I ran and hid in the toilet at the back of the house. “Some of them holding gun were shooting, one of them shot at me and his assumption was that I was dead from the several sporadic gunshots.

“When he found out I was lying almost lifeless on the floor, he called out to his brother to pass him matches. They lit the house while I was inside; l could not move because I was afraid for my life. I laid there quietly while the house was burning with me inside and all the heat I was exposed to. I had to play dead under the heat within the period they were around.

“When I noticed they had left, I crawled on my belly to the nearby room for safety while still playing dead. I was restless and in serious pains. After some hours they came back again, shooting and they ensured they set the other buildings in the compound that they had destroyed earlier on fire. “The luck I had this time when they came back was that they didn’t enter the house rather they set the other rooms ablaze from the outside. They burnt down everything and started seizing the chickens we reared before they left. After they left, I had to crawl on my belly to the middle of the compound and laid there still exposed to the heat of the burning buildings.

“Then I started praying. I asked God to send a helper to me if it’s not my day to die. It was later I had voices of some of people speaking our language. Then one came close saying ‘this old man is still alive.’ I then asked if they are our children and he said yes. Then I told him to call his brothers to help carry me to the shade under the mango tree. My mum was the first victim they shot dead instantly when they came to the compound.” Asked whether they had been any issues with the Fulani within their neighbourhood he claimed came to attack them, he said no. “I don’t think we have had any issues with them before except if our children had.

“THEY SHOT ME AT CLOSE RANGE AND ONE OF THEM USED AXE TO CUT MY LEG

Lydia David, from Dogo Noma Village in Kajuru also narrated how she was shot and left to die before another of the attackers used axe to cut her legs. She said: “This whole thing started on Sunday morning while we were preparing for Sunday service. We were told that armed robbers attacked a village called Gindin-gada not too far from us. We were told that armed robbers went to attack/rob people in the church and the news spread all over the community as we were still preparing to go for church service. “The gunshots were intense and we thought they were coming close. We waited to see the wonders of God. People later went to the affected community to confirm what happened and came back.

“We slept that night peacefully until Monday morning. We woke up and had our morning prayers, shortly after then, I heard the sound of whistle. Our people started blowing whistles all over. When I asked, I was told by a boy that it is for those who used to play football in the field. I wasn’t too comfortable so we came out of my house and were confused when people started running; sincerely we did not know where to run.

“I saw that they looked like soldiers but these ones wore a kind of red khaki. People began to run helter-skelter as these so-called soldiers began shooting people ‘kpa kpa kpa kpa.” Unfortunately, the community is so wide that there are no nearby bushes to hide in. “As people ran, these guys followed even into the river, killing them. We became confused, so I ran into a neighbour’s house since I couldn’t run with the others as I was recently operated upon.

“I ran into the room already deserted by the owners and hid between the mattress and the bed. After they were done killing several people, they now began searching for money. All through the period, they kept speaking in “Fulani.” One of them said they should come, someone is here and as soon as they came in, one of them shot me. “I just laid still as if I was dead. They walked up to me to check if I was still alive. When they noticed I was still breathing, one of among them used an axe to cut my leg, hand and chopped off three of my fingers. Then they poured fuel on my thigh and lit a broom with matches and put it on my thigh and I started to burn.

“The whole scenario after the attack seemed like a dream as I could no longer feel any strength because I had lost a lot of blood. I was helpless with only one hand to save myself. “They went outside and set the whole house on fire. I looked round the room where I was and saw some water in a container the occupants left from the meal they had overnight. The only hand left from the attack was what I managed to use to pour the water on the fire around me. “I also saw a broom which I used to keep pushing the fire away. The whole room was very smoky. It was God who saved me because the whole house has only one exit and I kept crawling like a snake to the middle of the house where I laid down helpless. After a while, I got a stick to push back the fir to get a space to get out. That’s what brought me here. “We can’t explain the reason for these attacks. No one saw this coming as we were taken unawares when people had not even brushed their teeth that morning. The houses in our village were all burnt, my husband’s car was also burnt; all our farm produce are gone. The only thing I am left with right now is the clothes I am putting on.”

THEY USED STICK TO BEAT THE MAN WITH US TO DEATH

On his part, Halima James from Sabon Maro said the herdsmen kidnapped them from the farm and made them to trek for hours into the bush, where they used stick to beat the man they kidnapped along with her to death. According to her: “I went to fetch firewood on that fateful morning; I called out to a man who was working in the farm to help me put the firewood on my head. Just when I turned to go, I saw these men in front of me. I noticed they were strange looking people that I had not seen before and they were holding guns, while others had cutlasses. “I turned and called out to that man who helped me with the firewood to come help me.

They had already caught him, they held the both of us at gun point. We tried running, they said if we ran, they would just shoot us. They came close and started asking where we are from and what we came to do in the farm. “I told them I am from Maro and came to get firewood while the man said he is also from Maro and came to look for food to feed his family.

They asked me to throw the firewood away. They seized the both of us and asked us to follow them. We kept following them until they took us to a thick bush. We rested about three times along the way because we were so tired. “In the fourth place we rested, they took the cloth/rag I used to cushion the effect of the load I was to carry, tore it and blindfolded the man with me and tied him to a tree. They also did same thing to me. We began to beg.

They removed my blindfold and pretended they wanted to free us. They all had sticks and began beating the man with big sticks until he fell; as soon as he fell down they shot him dead. They asked me to sit down. Just when I bent down to sit, I was shot, I fell face down; one of them matched me on my back, then he shot me again. “When I noticed he was going to shoot me again, I relaxed my body. So they surrounded us and began to laugh, saying ‘these stupid people are all dead, see them.’ When I noticed they had left I managed to walk through the path until I got to the hut belonging to some Fulanis that I knew. I met only the children outside the house, later they called their parents who were curious to know what happened. I beg them to help me, so they suggested I walk to the main road to get help. “I told them I had no strength to walk further.

I was given water to drink and called a Fulani man who took me on his bike to the hospital. The hospital said they could not attend to me so I was referred here, the Saint Gerald hospital.” However when our correspondent visited the Maraban Kajuru IDP camp many women and children were seen in terrible living conditions, with many expressing fears of an epidemic. Also not less than seven children had been born in the camps since the crisis started. Many Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have been assisting the displaced persons in the midst of serial complaints of alleged lack of care by the state government. Recently, worried by the situation surrounding the IDP camps the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) and the Kajuru Local Government issued a joint statement to address the issues. The statement noted: “Our attention has been drawn to attempts by some individuals and groups to smear the name of the government of Kaduna State about the state of the IDPs in Kajuru LG. We will like to set the record straight and inform the public that the LG and the state government through the state emergency management agency had provided relief materials to the IDPs in identified locations around Kajuru local government. “Some of the displaced persons have been absorbed by their host communities, and the government is working assiduously to begin the reconstruction of the destroyed settlements to enable the residents of the communities to return to their homes.”

The statement jointly signed by Hon. Cafra Caino, Chairman Kajuru LG and Hon. Ben Kure, Executive Secretary (SEMA), added: “When the attacks happened there were various camps but currently the local government has collapsed the camps into one at KADP building in Maraban Kajuru which will be the only approved camp, this is due to reports of possible child labour or child trafficking and to avoid the politicization of the humanitarian situation through propaganda, as some individuals have been reported to be picking children as domestic workers. “Henceforth the government will no longer tolerate it and anyone caught doing that will be arrested and handed to the appropriate authorities.” They also stated: “We will like to inform the public and all groups or organization that will like to support the efforts of the government to contact the local government chairman or the Director Education and Social Development in the absence of the chairman to get clearance to render any support to the IDPs. “We are open to all support from all and sundry. We look forward to working with everybody to ensure we provide the highest humanitarian assistance in accordance with global standards. Let us all put aside our difference, be they political or religious, towards making Kaduna Great Again.”

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