• Diaspora Nigerians beckon on United Nations
• Sultan, others urge caution on northern-wide crime
More Nigerians yesterday condemned the killings in Southern Kaduna, with South, Middle Belt and Northern Minorities Forum (SMBNMF) urging the United Nations (UN) to intervene.
In a letter presented to the UN Secretary General, Antonio Gutteres in New York yesterday, the group said the killings appeared to have prompted an armed race among the contending parties. This came 48 hours after a Christian group in the area called on the President Muhammadu Buhari government to show more concern or they would be forced to resort to self-help.
The letter, signed by SMBNMF President, Mr. Sidney Imohbio noted that about “1000 ethnic minorities have been killed between November 2019 and July 2020. The worst victims are women and children.”
The group called on the UN Secretary General to appoint a special rapporteur to visit Nigeria and ascertain the extent of the killings for appropriate actions.
SMBNM said, “People are being killed daily in Southern Kaduna, Plateau and territories belonging to minorities in the North. The Nigerian and Kaduna State government appear helpless. It is time for the United Nations to appoint a Special Rappateur for Nigeria in order for the UN to stop the carnage.” WORRIED also by the killings, the Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) yesterday convened a peace meeting between the feuding parties in the zone.
The meeting, tagged ‘Southern Kaduna dialogue and peace initiative,’ took place in Kagarko Local Government secretariat. Spokesperson for the CNG, Suleiman Abdul-Azeez, said the meeting was to find ways to stop the killings and to promote peaceful coexistence.
The Chairman, Board of Trustees of the CNG, Nastura Sheriff, urged all parties to forget the past, embrace peace and shun all forms of animosity, hatred and mutual suspicion, among others. A Nigerian musician, whose father was recently murdered by suspected Fulani herdsmen in Southern Kaduna, Joel Amadi, yesterday, called on federal and Kaduna State governments to speak up against the killings.
Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, Amadi said, “There is heartbreak and unspeakable evil that have befallen my family, my community and the entire Southern Kaduna region of my state of origin.
“On Friday, July 24, year 2020, heavily armed Fulani herdsmen shot my father to death in his hometown in Southern Kaduna. He was shot in the back in a commando-like operation that fragmented and wrecked my community. By the time the dust raised by the heartless and evil marauders cleared up, eight other corpses of close relatives, including an uncle and an aunt, were found. They were all butchered in the most gruesome manner possible, reminiscent of an unrestrained war of attrition,” he stated. He regretted that nothing had been done or said by government to address the development.
IN the same vein, indigenes of four communities of Southern Kaduna cried out yesterday against alleged seizure of their farmlands by Fulani herdsmen. The communities include Zunuruk in Kaura Local Government Area; Unguwa, Ungwan Wakili, Unguwa Tabo and Abuyab communities, all in Zango Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
The youth leader of Zunuruk Community, Mr Zakaria Swanta, said the herdsmen had completely destroyed crops on their farmlands. He said, “We’ve restricted ourselves from going to farms because we don’t have anything to protect ourselves. We have lost hope and confident on the side of the government.
“ We kept calling security agencies but there was no positive response even when they promised to come and help us clear them in the bushes.”
However, the Director of Media and Publicity of MACBAN, Alhaji Ibrahim Bayero, who spoke with The Guardian, denied claims by Southern Kaduna residents, saying: “The Fulanis are law abiding people, there was no time they turned their lands into grazing reserves.”
Co-Chairmen of Nigerian Inter-Religious Council (NIREC), Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, who is also the Sultan of Sokoto; and the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Dr. Sampson Ayokunle, denounced the recent killing of 76 people in the Sabon Birni Local Government Area of Sokoto State; RuwanTofa Dansadua District in Zamfara State; Zagon Kataf Local Government Area in Kaduna State; and Bethel Baptist Church at Aguda-Dauruwan, Kogi State.
In a statement yesterday in Abuja, the Executive Secretary of NIREC, Rev Fr Cornelius Omonokhua, quoted the leaders as expressing worry.
The statement read, “NIREC has always condemned terrorists’ attacks on innocent citizens in the North Eastern part of Nigeria and the various criminal activities in various parts of the country.”
NIREC asked government at all levels to make security a priority for every Nigerian, and noted that security agents must fish out the criminals to face justice.
Similarly the All Progressives Grand Alliance(APGA), Nasarawa State chapter, and the Nigerian Union of Journalists(NUJ) in Nasarawa, separately condemned killings and kidnapping in the state.
State chairman of APGA, Adams Nybama, in a telephone conversation described the killings as worrisome.He described the state as insecure, lamenting that farmers could no longer go to their farms as they could be kidnapped and killed without anyone challenging the assailants.
“I am a victim of bandit attack, they came to my house recently at about 2:00am and tried to break in but for the security doors. At the end, they kidnapped four people and we had to pay millions of naira as ransom before we could secure their release,” he lamented.
NUJ, in a statement, condemned the attack and killing of its former treasurer, Benjamin Ekom, on July 3. The state council Chairman, Salihu Alkali, described attacks on residents of the state by criminal elements as one too many and urged that drastic and proactive measures should be taken to protect lives and property.