By Ikechukwu Amaechi
ANYONE trying to make some sense out of the senseless killings in Southern Kaduna automatically hits a brick wall because the killings, which question our humanity and cast aspersions on our claim to civilisation, are absurd and bizarre.
They simply defy logic. But even more eerie and disconcerting are the seeming rationalisations by both the Kaduna State government and the presidency. Why will the Nigerian government which primary duty, as it is all over the world, is to ensure that security of lives and properties of the citizens are protected and guaranteed under the law, abdicate?
In the last one month, Southern Kaduna has been in the news for very atrocious reasons – harvest of deaths. On Friday, July 24, ten people were murdered in cold blood in Zipak village, Fanstwam Chiefdom, Jemaa local government.
When the guns went silent, Joel Cephas, a five-year-old boy; Luka Garba, 75-year-old man and Martina Dauda, 70-year-old grandmother; were all dead. Kingsley Raphael, another victim, was 28 years, Katung Kantiock 60, Victor Ishaya 22, Madam Dakaci 52, Kuyet Yayock 25, Cecilia Audu 65 and Yanasan Dauda 70. Nobody is immune – men, women, young and old, even children. It is that bad.
A day before, seven people were gruesomely murdered in Agwala Magayaki village in Kajuru local government. It was the second time in a month the village would come under attack.
The seven people included an 80-year-old John Mallam, 85-year-old Albarka Mallam and 76-year-old Jumare Sule. When the murderers first came on June 20 to hawk their malevolent ware, they also left seven people dead.
Before Agwala Magayaki, it was Kizachi village, Chawai chiefdom, Kauru local government where five people, the youngest, Jummai, a girl of nine years, and the oldest, 27-year-old Living Yohanna, were brutally murdered. So, in just 72 hours, 23 Southern Kaduna natives were murdered in the most grisly manner with knives, daggers and machetes by marauders.
On Monday, 20 July, 21 persons were killed in Kukum Daji village in Kaura local government, and a day later, 11 persons, including a village head and a six-year-old boy were slaughtered in Gora Gan village, Zango-Kataf local government. These are human beings, not just statistics.
Aside the dead, the attacks have created dire humanitarian crisis with many of the survivors living in IDPs camps. Some Nigerians in the Diaspora have petitioned Hon. Fatou Bensouda, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, accusing the global body of failing Nigeria and urging her to “act against genocide now”.
Interestingly, among the signatories is Baroness Caroline Cox, member of the British House of Lords, a consistent and outspoken champion of global human rights and religious freedom; just as her colleague, Lord David Alton, likened the Southern Kaduna massacres to the notorious Darfur genocide for which the former Sudanese strongman, Omar El Bashir, may be extradited to face trial at the International Criminal Court.
Inexplicably, while ordinary people, including non-citizens, are shocked by the horrendous killings, the Federal Government is not. Instead, it is blaming the victims with President Muhammadu Buhari insisting that the carnage persists because of the “evil combination of politically-motivated banditry, revenge killings and mutual violence by criminal gangs acting on ethnic and religious grounds.”
On Tuesday, July 21, Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, claimed the government has provided “comprehensive security deployments” in the area “to forestall criminality and keep the peace”, yet violence continue spiking. Of what use are the security deployments if they cannot guarantee security of lives and properties of the people?
Assuming without conceding that the killings are activities of criminal elements on both sides as claimed, does that make it right? Is Buhari saying that the children killed wantonly are also members of the criminal gangs?
Who has been arrested and prosecuted for these heinous crimes? Has Nigeria become such a jungle that hundreds of people will be slaughtered every week and all the government does is to blame the victims?
The ethnicity of the victims is not important. What matters is that they are human beings created by God with the inalienable right to life. The essence of government which has monopoly of all instruments of coercion in a state is to guarantee that right.
Ceding the responsibility to so-called armed gangs and non-state actors is a crime against humanity. Expectedly, Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai, doubled down on Federal Government’s claim.
Last Monday, he said Nigerians were dressing up activities of the bandits in ethnic and religious robes and passed off responsibility to the victims. “Ultimately peace depends on the willingness of people to live in harmony and to settle their differences peacefully,” he rationalised.
So cavalier! This reaction is cold-blooded but it is typical of el-Rufai who sees power as a zero-sum game. But he is only being too clever by half. He can only deceive himself.
The same el-Rufai who is now telling the people to take their destiny in their own hands, literally is the same person who brought down the roof when he alleged in February 2019 that 66, a number he later increased to 130, Fulani were killed in Kajuru without any evidence.
Then, he addressed a press conference. He visited Southern Kaduna. He went to see Buhari in Aso Rock. He claimed Fulani were the victims and Southern Kaduna natives the villains. He threatened the alleged villains and ordered their arrests because his tribe’s people were the victims. Isn’t el-Rufai supposed to be governor of everybody in the state?
This is the same Nasir el-Rufai who shocked the whole world when he narrated in December 2016 how he traced some Fulani murderers to Niger, Cameroon, Chad, Mali and Senegal to compensate them for coming to Kaduna to kill Nigerian citizens.
His message to them in his own words was: “There is a new governor who is Fulani like them and has no problem paying compensations for lives lost and he is begging them to stop killing.”
Just like Buhari, el-Rufai has more affinity to Fulani, no matter where they come from, than to fellow Nigerian citizens. But it is a slippery slope. Well-meaning Fulani should condemn this evil because Buhari will not be in power forever. The table may turn tomorrow when the axiomatic king that does not know Joseph ascends the throne.
Besides, why are Nigerians keeping quiet? Have we lost our humanity? Why are we abandoning the people of Southern Kaduna to their fate? Haven’t the fate of Ndigbo taught us a lesson?
If other Nigerians rallied around them when they were being massacred in waves after waves of pogrom in the North, actively supported by indigenes of Southern Kaduna and Middle Belt, perhaps these massacres today would have been attenuated.
The killings in Southern Kaduna should be unacceptable to all of us. But if we don’t do anything about it, those committing the atrocities will be emboldened. And who knows whose turn it will be tomorrow?
We must all rise before this evil of ethnic supremacy consumes all of us believing as Dr. Martin Luther King, the late American civil rights icon, said that “the arc of the universe is long but it tends towards justice.”