Friday, January 6, 2017

Fulani Herdsmen Menace unrelenting in Southern Kaduna

The wanton destruction of human lives and properties being perpetrated by the notorious Fulani herdsmen in Nigeria is showing no sign of abating.  Rather it is intensifying in places like Southern Kaduna, as it were, with outright impunity.
As at press time, a 24-hour curfew has been imposed (since Christmas) on 3 LGAs in the predominantly Christian Southern Kaduna Senatorial District; yet the killing, maiming and raping has only intensified.  According to reports, killers armed with sophisticated weapons such as AK47 and machine guns moved from house to house within a target community, wreaking havoc.  Mostly affected are the weak and vulnerable, such as children, women, and the elderly who usually are unable to scamper out to safety in time to escape the assailants.
Outspoken government critic, Chief Fani-Kayode provided a graphic description of the aftermath of a typical herdsmen visit:
“On Christmas eve, despite a three day government curfew, Goska and numerous other towns, communities and villages in Southern Kaduna were attacked by the Fulani militants and herdsmen yet again. In Goska they raped most of the girls before slaughtering them.
Scores of innocent men, women and children, including the fourteen year old daughter of the former LGA Chairman of Jema, Barrister Gideon Morik, were butchered.
I saw the picture of her battered head and body all over the social media and it sickened and enraged me. I kept asking myself what type of animals would do this to a child?”
According to statistics released by the Catholic Diocese of Kafanchan late December, 808 people have been killed while 57 managed to escape with various levels of injury, in the latest series of onslaughts. The list of properties destroyed includes: 1,422 houses, 16 church buildings, 19 shops, 1 primary school and 5 cars. Cost of farmlands and foodstuff burnt was put, conservatively, at N5.5 billion.
Yet for all these atrocities, the Federal Government has kept mum on the issue.  When taken up by the Press on this silence, spokesperson for the government said it was a matter for the State Government to handle!
As this tragic drama continues seemingly unabatedly, however, the Socio Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has petitioned the United Nations, requesting her to intervene and compel the Federal Government of Nigeria to act.  In the petition dated 30th December, 2016 and signed by executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni, SERAP lamented that: “the Nigerian government has failed and/or neglected to create an environment in Southern Kaduna to end the unlawful killings by failing to move their legal and institutional machinery …… to prevent the violence which has contributed to the increasing number of victims.”
The SERAP further reiterated her belief, “that the killings would not have taken place if the Nigerian authorities have taken measures to prevent their happening and to address persistent impunity of those responsible for the violations and abuses.”  According to the SERAP, “The lack of accountability for the attacks by herdsmen and other unknown perpetrators across the country has continued to create a culture of impunity which clearly is not compatible with the rule of law in a democratic society.”
Among other demands, SERAP urged the UN to “Carry out an effective investigation into the circumstances surrounding the killings and to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice, and to provide reparations to victims.”
In the meantime, Gov El Rufai of Kaduna state continues to provoke criticism with his comments and actions on the affairs.  First he declared that the criminal herdsmen were not Nigerians, but foreign herdsmen who are bent on revenging (apparently justifiably) some wrong meted to their colleagues in the aftermath of the 2011 national elections. He later announced he had security reports indicating militants from the Niger Delta were planning to come dressed as Fulani herdsmen to cause more chaos!  In other words, it is never the Fulani herdsmen that you see around (Miyetti Allah) that are responsible for the massacre. Finally the governor (who claimed he paid some financial compensation to appease off the non-Nigerian Fulani herdsmen) announced he would be spending 100 million naira to rebuild the burnt Churches. 
Various stakeholders, at various fora, have however expressed lack of confidence in the government of Mallan El-Rufai. The Catholic Archdiocese of Kafancha for instance, said they would prefer that the 100 million naira in question be used, in a transparent manner, to compensate and alleviate the sufferings of families afflicted by the crisis.  They further contrasted government’s swift response to rescue herdsmen who were attacked by cattle rustlers in Birnin Gwari, with the many incidents of security forces failing to turn up whilst the Fulani herdsmen massacre natives and sometimes take over their land.  In the cattle rustlers’ attack on the herdsmen, according to the Catholic Diocese, “It didn’t take the government of El Rufai time to figure out what to do. ….. if the government can deploy helicopters and soldiers to Birnin Gwari to help in tracking down the terrorists, why is the same government unwilling to deploy the same soldiers and helicopters to Southern Kaduna to help flush out the Fulani herdsmen terrorizing indigenes of Southern Kaduna?  Why is government silent and not proactive in the face of these attacks?”
Senator representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Shehu Sanni, in declaring his loss of confidence in government’s handling of the case went as far as calling for the involvement of  civil militia groups such as the Civilian JTF which has played considerable role in the now concluding fight against Boko Haram insurgency.  As reported by the Leadership newspaper, the visit of the outspoken senator was in response to the “…attacks in Goska village, Jema’a local government area of Kaduna state, despite curfew,  at Tum in Kaura local government area of Kaduna state on 27 Dec, 2016”  He was reported to have declared: “it is unfortunate that southern Kaduna has become a slaughter ground and a cemetery.”
In the meantime, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has declared a national day of mourning for Sunday 8th January 2017 to petition God for urgent intervention and also sensitize the world to the ongoing attempt to cleanse Southern Kaduna of Christian people and influence by brute Islamists.

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