Southern Kaduna people blame state, federal governments for perennial killings of indigenes
In Southern Kaduna, the people come across as games that are picked up by the enemies. The cycle has not been broken for years. In some cases, the killing is ascribed to communal clashes, while at other times, the aggressors are identified as killer herdsmen who invade the area at night to mow down innocent women, children and men.
The people are innocent and undefended, savagely woken up from their sleep by the marauders who are not known to steal property, only on a mission of destruction – of lives and property.
In the past months, scores of lives have been cut short by the killers in rustic villages of Kaura, Kajuru, Chikun, Sanga, Jema’a and Zangon Kataf local government areas.
Like the inhabitants of the towns and villages, we find it puzzling that the marauders find their ways into the area, even after the state government is said to have declared an all-night curfew, even sometimes 24-hour curfew in the area. Security men of various agencies are said to be deployed to ensure peace. Yet, the killers make their way through the cordon and unleash mayhem.
The buck stops on the desk of the state governor, Nasir el-Rufai, who is the state chief security officer and President Muhammadu Buhari who is Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Both men swore by the constitution to protect lives and property of all Nigerians.
Indeed, it is unfortunate that the elders’ forum of the area, the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), Christian Association of Nigeria and the Southern Christian Elders Forum are beginning to sound desperate and exasperated, threatening that they would be forced to resort to self-help if the Nigerian state is unable to defend them.
Why is it difficult for the police and military forces deployed to arrest the invaders, and where this fails, what has become of the previous investigations launched into the blood spilling expeditions, to get the culprits apprehended and arraigned in courts? We are not in position to verify the contention that the police are too eager to arrest the Southern Kaduna youths who take steps to protect their people and territory, while the invading killers are allowed to return to their base? Such views and contentions could only fan the embers of hate and well up anger, giving the impression that the state is taking sides.
At some point in the killing expedition, Governor el-Rufai was reported as saying he knew the killers, reasons for the invasion, and indeed paid them compensation, while the obvious victims were left to nurse their wounds and bury the dead.
President Buhari should take more interest in the matter. Where he is not being correctly briefed by the governor and security chiefs, it is not out of order for him to visit the area with a view to making on-the-spot assessments.
It is dangerous to have the people come up with the impression that the state is the enemy. In that case, any effort taken would be justified.
The intelligence services should be deployed and instructed to step up their duties in the local government areas. What the people need is to be assuaged that they have the President’s listening ears. Intelligence should help in preventing the incessant attacks.
It is obvious that previous strategies and tactics have failed. They are therefore due for change. It is not enough to permit the strikes first and then seek to assure the people that all would be well thereafter. Of recent, the Chief of Army Staff, General Tukur Buratai, has been speaking more than acting.
Only last week, he was in the state to fete wounded soldiers at the military hospital and was quick to say the Nigerian society is more peaceful today than it was in 2015 when he was appointed the army chief.
This is at a time when the southern part of the state was boiling, and many parts of the North West and North East are engulfed in insecurity of various shades. How could General Buratai be so insensitive to be talking of peace reigning at such time?
Again, we call on President Buhari to accede to the call of Nigerians and their representatives in the federal legislature to remove the service chiefs if they are unable to deliver on their mandates.
The President should remember that he came into office in 2015 well recommended by his military service as the best man to end the various wars in parts of the country.
He should be reminded, too, of the title of the late Professor Chinua Achebe’s book, There was a country. The country’s unity and territorial integrity rests on him.