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Inexcusable violence – The Nation

By The Citizen
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The spate of violence in Southern Kaduna has brought to the front burner the contagion of death and destruction across the country. Recently, hordes of Fulani herdsmen attacked communities in Southern Kaduna and killed about 40 citizens with many homes destroyed in another chapter of sadism in contemporary Nigeria.

The killings in Kaduna State were put in perspective by the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Dr. Samson Ayokunle, amidst representatives of 25 villages caught in the spasms of violence. The CAN president reported that 102 persons have been killed, 215 injured and about 50,000 homes burnt within six months by the band of bandits.

The motives of the slaughter have generated controversy in the past week with the CAN president and the Kaduna State governor propounding contradictory notions. The CAN president calls it genocide, ethnic and religious cleansing. He said the Christian communities of Godogodo and Gidan Waya in the Jema'ah local government area are facing dangers of extinction and genocide. 'Is this not Boko Haram in another colour?' he posed.

In his reaction, Governor Nasir El Rufai of Kaduna State lashed back, saying that the wanton killings were motivated by mere criminality and banditry.  He linked the murders in his state to the attacks on the Fulanis of Zamfara State.

Hear him: 'The perpetrators of the attacks in both Southern Kaduna and Zamfara State are just criminals; their ethnicity and religion do not matter.' He said he had set up a committee to look into the killings and the findings of the General Martin Luther Agwai panel traced the rage to the 2011 post-elections killings of the Fulanis from Cameroon and Niger Republic.

'It was a small problem that started in Ninte, Godogodo that could have been handled better by both Fulani and community elders,' he said.

Two questions come out of this assertion from Governor El Rufai. One, there have not been records of arrest till date and the killers are still at large and lurking with menace. We need the culprits tried in public so we can ascertain their motives. Two, if the matter began in Southern Kaduna and it was a revenge action, why are they wreaking mayhem in relatively distant Zamfara and not even in northern or other parts of Kaduna? The use of the phrase, 'Fulani and community elders' reflects a dodgy pose, avoiding specifying the 'community' elders.

The northern leaders as well as President Muhammadu Buhari have constantly blamed the killings on foreigners. This is an old song. If they come from outside the country, is it not high time the security forces came to the bottom of the matter? The civil society has not been as vulnerable as it has been in the past year, and we cannot survive on excuses and recriminations.

Southern Kaduna citizens deserve peace, whether the mayhem is actuated by insular ideas or mere criminality. In the past half year, about 10,000 persons have been displaced and 30,000 hectares of land destroyed. Solomon Musa, the chairman of the Southern Kaduna People's Union, said, 'it has now become abundantly clear to even the worst sceptics that southern Kaduna has become a killing field, where genocide is taking place unabated.'

Twenty-five villages constitute a vast territory, both in real estate and human activities. For a few blood hounds to hold it to ransom belittles our security apparatus, including our secret service.

As Ayokunle noted, 'this is a moment of truth. It is not of politics, religion or ethnicity.' And as Governor El Rufai urged: 'Let's fight the problem' without sentiments.