UN Panel of Investigation into the Genocide in Southern Kaduna: A CALL for Objectivity
In Southern Kaduna today, many are desperately searching for answers right now. Southern Kaduna indegenes have seen their loved ones slaughtered, raped and brutalized. Some have watched their homes, businesses, villages, and religious places set ablaze and destroyed. Husbands have helplessly watched their wives raped and humiliated. Ordinary people have been killed and burned publicly. For years, Southern Kaduna has been experiencing economic, political and structural siege. Thousands of people are traumatized, resulting in a range of different cognitive, emotional, physical, and behavioural effects which impact communities negatively. Hearts are hurting and the suffering is deep!
From the aforementioned, I join myriads of good people of Southern Kaduna to welcome the decision to launch an independent investigation with a mandate to cover allegations of human rights violations since the unabated genocide in Southern Kaduna; I have confidence that the UN panel would indeed be independent, transparent, thorough and effective, with a view to establishing the veracity of the facts before it with a view to bringing to justice the perpetrators of the genocide in Southern Kaduna.
I am confident that the indegenes of Southern Kaduna are ready to assist in ensuring that the investigation is undertaken in line with international human rights standards. I also reiterate our request for access to the affected areas, as the situation on the ground makes it very challenging to access because of the 'lies' put forward by kingpins of the heinous attacks in the region.
More so, given the tense situation in southern Kaduna where a large security presence has reportedly been deployed only on the main streets and NOT in the bushes and hills/mountains where the brutal killers commit their crimes and withdraw to; in the midst of all these, there are still reports of ongoing arbitrary arrests, intimidation and harassment of people, a majority of whom are the victims, this call becomes vital for the survival of the Southern Kaduna nation.
I call on the UN to use its arsenals to ensure that the people’s rights to freedom of peaceful expression are fully protected and guaranteed, and that those detained for exercising these rights are promptly released. Until these are observed, we are afraid the UN intervention might end in the usual "Nigerian way".
The people of Southern Kaduna have confidence in the UN human rights personnel who are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, an independent, fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that addresses either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis independent from any government or organization.
It therefore behoves on the honourable panel to find suitable ways and means of ensuring an independent and impartial investigation without the use of government institutions in whom the people have lost confidence. This will send a strong signal that everyone has the right to live, and those who take away life will NOT go unpunished.
UNDERSTANDING THE TIME FROM A THEOLOGICAL STANDPOINT
As a theologian, I have been trying to understand the theological significance of this moment in our history. It is serious, very serious. For very many Christians in Southern Kaduna, this is the KAIROS, the moment of grace and opportunity, the favorable time in which God issues a challenge to decisive action. It is a dangerous time because, if this opportunity is missed, and allowed to pass by, the loss for the Church, for the Gospel and for all the people of Southern Kaduna will be immeasurable.
Jesus wept over Jerusalem. He wept over the tragedy of the destruction of the city and the massacre of the people that was imminent, "and all because you did not recognize your opportunity (KAIROS) when God offered it" (Luke 19: 44).
A PROPHETIC THEOLOGY
Our present KAIROS calls for a response from Christians that is biblical, spiritual, pastoral and, above all, prophetic. We need a bold and incisive response that is prophetic because it speaks to the particular circumstances of this crisis, a response that does not give the impression of sitting on the fence with a pacifist/defeatist mood but should be clearly and unambiguously taking a stand.
HOPE FOR MY PEOPLE
At the very heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ and at the very center of all true prophecy is a message of hope. Nothing could be more relevant and more necessary at this moment of trial in Southern Kaduna than the Christian message of hope. Jesus has taught us to speak of this hope as the coming of God's kingdom. We believe that God is at work in our world turning hopeless and evil situations to good so that his "Kingdom may come" and his "Will may be done on earth as it is in heaven." We believe that goodness and justice and love will triumph in the end and that tyranny and oppression cannot last forever.
One day "all tears will be wiped away" (Rev 7:17; 21:4) and "the lamb will lay down with the lion" (Isa 11:6). True peace and true reconciliation are not only desirable, they are assured and guaranteed. This is our faith and our hope.
Finally, I call upon our Christian brothers and sisters throughout the world to give us the necessary support in this regard so that the daily loss of so many lives may be brought to a speedy end.
United we stand, divided we fall! Long live Southern Kaduna!
Rev Fr Paul Danbaki Jatau is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Kafanchan. He can be reached via mail at [email protected]