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SOKAPU: Military detaining 15 community leaders without trial

The Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) yesterday accused soldiers of the Operation Safe Haven in the southern part of the state of conniving to arrest 15 community leaders of Atyap extraction and detaining them without trial.

 

A statement by SOKAPU made available to newsmen yesterday said: “It is over 17 days today that 15 Atyap Community leaders in Atyap Chiefdom, Zangon Kataf Local Government Area (LGA), in Southern part of Kaduna State have been detained without trial.” Luka Binniyat, spokesman of the union, also disclosed that “among them is a very sick 85-year-old, four village heads and youth leaders.”

 

The statement alleged that the leaders “were tricked to a meeting by military officers of Operation Safe Haven on March 31, 2021, at the Headquarters of Operation Safe Haven, close to Kafanchan, Jemaa LGA.

 

After spending four agonising days of torture in the hands of the military, they were later transferred to the Kafanchan Police Area Command. “Again, they suffered brutal detention in the hands of the police between 3rd to 9th April, 2021, and were never arraigned before any court of law.

 

These leaders, who had come on the invitation of the soldiers so that a way forward could be found over the incessant invasions, killings and arson of Atyap communities, were again transferred to Kaduna State Police Force Headquarters.”

 

Luka said: “They are now held at the Kabala West Police Station, Kaduna, as tension continues to swell in Atyap Land over the sufferings they are being subjected to.

 

“These men, who are now forcefully kept under unhygienic and inhuman conditions, have amongst them elderly persons that are sick and infirmed.” SOKAPU said the, “allegations against them by their lawyers, is that “they conspired, maimed and killed 75 cows,” (a figure that later changed to 300 cows) belonging to Fulani.

 

Of course, they have denied any involvement and regard the allegation as trumped-up. “Even at that, the offence of killing cows cannot be equated to homicide. It is bailable as investigations go on.”

 

However, the union said: “The Kaduna State Police Command, with Governor Nasir el-Rufai as the Chief- Security Officer of the state, would not allow these men get bail.”

 

SOKAPU listed the leaders as “Atyoli Ishaya Achi (Dakachin Zonzon Community); Atyoli Joseph Bitrus (Secretary to Dakachin Wawarafi); Atyoli Bitrus Adamu (Village Head of Ma’wakili); Atyoli Samaila Kazah (Village Head of Unguwan Tabo). Others are: Elder Waje Laah (85 years and very ill) of Mabuhu village; Atyoli Ayuba Dodo (Dakachin Mashan 1) and Peter Katung, a youth leader.

 

“In the past nine months, the Atyap ethnic nationality, which is one of the biggest block of the 65 ethnic groups that form SOKAPU, has suffered severe destruction in property and has lost over 100 lives in the hands of killers that surviving victims clearly defined as armed Fulani militia, some of them known faces that had lived in their communities before suddenly moving out.”

 

The union also listed some of the recent attacks in area saying, “just last week (11th April, 2021) Wawarafi was attacked by Fulani militia and the following people were killed: Dauda Joshua, 54; Francis Ayuba, 30 and children – Philip Dauda, 8 and Florence Dennis, 3.

 

“Part of the village was completely razed after it was looted. Not a single Fulani person or leader has been called for questioning.

 

“There is no month since July 2020 that an Atyap Community is not under the invasion of armed Fulani militia, even as the Atyap traditional leadership has made several overtures to the Hausa and Fulani settlers on its land for the violence to stop.

 

This is a gesture that even Governor el-Rufai acknowledges. “But how comes that no Fulani or Hausa leader in Atyap Land has never been called for interrogation, only for Atyap local leaders to be rounded up and locked up over allegations of involvement in the death of cattle?

 

“SOKAPU has reported that Fulani cattle have destroyed food crops on hundreds of hectares of Atyap farmlands but the authorities just turned a blind eye to it.

 

“If anyone deserves justice and compensation in the violence that came over Atyap Land, like in other parts of Southern Kaduna, it is the Atyap people.”

 

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