Editorial

Ending orgy of killings in Southern Kaduna

Last week Wednesday, leaders of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) were in tears again.

 

That has been their lot since 2015, when the Christian dominated area of the state turned into a killing field of Fulani herdsmen, militia, bandits and all manner of killers.

 

Citizens of Kaduna State living in that area no longer sleep with their eyes closed because they do not know when the enemy would strike again. Last Wednesday’s killing of at least 33 persons was a sad reminder to the people of the area that they are in for a long haul in their battle for survival.

 

Thus, when the leaders of the SOKAPU gave a statement on their latest ordeal last Thursday, it was as emotional as it could be.

 

Overnight, about 33 persons from five villages in Zango Kataf Local Government Area of the state were murdered in cold blood.

 

Luka Binniyat, spokesman for SOKAPU, whose lot it has become to announce grim news from his community, said in a statement that, “On Wednesday night and early hours of Thursday, 33 Atyap natives, who were among hundreds of thousands of already starving indigenes under a 24 hours rigidly imposed curfew that was 65 days yesterday, were killed in five Atyap villages in Atyap Chiefdom, Zangon Kataf LGA in Southern part of Kaduna State by Fulani militia.”

 

The affected villages according to him were Apiashyim, Kibori, Apiako, Atakmawei and Magamiya. He added: “Prior to now, they were all shutdown with fierce armed military men patrolling and enforcing the 24-hour curfew. But when the gunmen struck, the security operatives were not on ground.”

 

He went on to give graphic details of how human beings were slaughtered by the militia men and houses, properties and any relevant thing razed. For the leadership of SOKAPU, announcing deaths and calling for help have become their lot since 2015 when Governor Nasir el-Rufai took over the reins of governance in the state.

 

We are not unaware that the Southern Kaduna crisis preceded El-Rufai. It has been on for a very long time. We remember the Gen. Zamani Lekwot episode in years past that led to a death sentence, life sentence and eventual pardon.

 

We also remember the white papers that have been issued by different governments on the crisis. But we are worried that nothing seems to be achieved in terms of progress in stopping what is gradually becoming a genocide in the area.

 

It is a fact that most parts of Southern Kaduna have been under a curfew imposed by the state government, with the full complement of security agencies on ground to enforce it. But we again wonder if the curfew hours do not include the hours used by the killers to unleash mayhem on the communities.

 

By the accounts of SOKAPU, whenever such killings are tak-  ing place, no security presence is visible in such areas; panic alarms by beleaguered citizens are not answered by security agencies. Thus, the killers have a free reign until they are satisfied and leave.

 

Recently, the Commander of Operation Safe Haven in the state, Maj.-Gen. Chukwuemeka Okonkwo, described the crimes in the area as the activities of criminal elements and not ethnic cleansing as insinuated in some quarters.

 

Okonkwo, who spoke while briefing journalists after a high level security meeting at the Kaduna Government House Kaduna, said: “What we have were attacks on some communities and reprisals.’’

 

That line of thought have been presented by the presidency, the Kaduna State Government and all other people that should have responsibility, stopping the regular mass murder in the area.

We are not unaware that the North-West, like the North-East and the rest of the country is faced with security challenges. But we know that being a concentrated cluster, it is easier to curtail the challenges in Southern Kaduna before it degenerates further.

 

Sadly, what we have is a litany of excuses from people who should stop the carnage, while hundreds of people are killed daily or weekly. Just last week, El Rufai at a meeting with community leaders recounted all the efforts he has made since assuming office, towards solving the problem.

 

El- Rufai recalled that his first official action as governor was to convene and preside over an emergency security council meeting on 30th May 2015, following reports of killings in Sanga LGA in the hours before his swearing-in on 29th May 2015.

 

We sympathise with El-Rufai and the Federal Government on the intractable conflict in the area. But we want to state boldly that their efforts have not been enough insecuring the people of Southern Kaduna. We dare say that the government has failed the people there.

 

A casual look at the numbers of people killed, the orphans, and homeless in that area tells the story better. It is an indisputable fact that the primary duty of the government is the protection of lives and property of citizens.

 

Can we say that the government has done such in Southern Kaduna? We do not want to hazard a guess that some security agencies are collaborating with the murderers.

 

But the words of the Governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum, recently that some security agencies were sabotaging the efforts of the government in the fight against insecurity rings true in this instance.

 

We believe that it is in the interest of the Kaduna State Government and the Federal Government to put a stop to the situation in Southern Kaduna as soon as possible. That is to safeguard not only the area, but the whole of the North-West and even the entire country.

 

The situation in that area has become unacceptable. Otherwise, there will be allegations of some people supervising genocide in the near future. A word is enough for the wise.

 

 

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