Nigeria: Members Of The Entertainment Industry Call For Action On Violence In Southern Kaduna State

By Christian Solidarity Worldwide, CSW UK Office

Several high-profile Nigerians in the entertainment industry have taken part in a campaign calling for an end to the ongoing violence targeting communities in southern Kaduna state.

A series of short videos entitled “Stop the Killings in Southern Kaduna,” which were released on 9 August, feature the actresses Ada Amah and Kate Henshaw; actors Chinedu Ikedieze and Charles Inojie; music artists Joel Amadu, Do2un OAP, Sound Sultan and Ice Prince Zemani; comedian Steven Onu (aka Yaw), Creative Entrepreneur Efe Omorogbe, Business executive Ikhane Akhigbe and the Founder and CEO of the Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) Chioma UDE.

One of the artists, Joel Amadi, who is “a victim of the killings in southern Kaduna,” related how he lost his father, who was among the victims of a Fulani militia attack on the Zikpak community near Kafanchan on 24 July. Mr Amadi had been alerted during the attack and issued several tweets calling on Kaduna State Governor Nasir el Rufai to send security agents based less than 2km from the village to the area, but none came. Mr Amadi concluded: “I want the whole world to hear my voice. I want peace. I want unity to reign.”

The current campaign of violence targeting communities in southern Kaduna has continued relentlessly since January 2020, and is characterised by murder, looting, rape, abductions for ransom, forced displacement and occupation.

On 9 August, Christians of all denominations dressed in black and gathered in the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) Good News Church Nyari High Cost in the Kaduna state capital for the second ‘Black Sunday Service’ organised by the Kaduna State Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) .

They were addressed by Hon Jonathan Asake, National President of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) among others. In his remarks, Hon Jonathan Asake declared that “there is no greater lie than the narrative that the killings in southern Kaduna are hinged on clashes between farmers and herders”, and pointed out that “75% of the victims” were women and children. He also listed several communities in Chikun and Kajuru Local Government Areas (LGAs) that have been occupied following the displacement of their inhabitants by the militia.

Highlighting that at least 3,000 displaced people were currently sheltering in Kara emergency camp in Kajuru alone, Hon Asake pleaded with “Nigerians and members of the international community to rise up and save not only southern Kaduna, but humanity.”

On 8 August several young people who had gathered in the Kaduna state capital for a peaceful protest against the violence in southern Kaduna organised by “Concerned Nigerians” were arrested and the protest was dispersed. The protesters, who were dressed in black and carrying placards stating, amongst other things, “Enough is Enough,” “We cannot continue like this,” “Southern Kaduna lives matter,” “Government has failed us,” and “Allow us to defend ourselves if you can’t,” were met by heavily armed police officers who arrived in around 15 Hilux vans.

The police claimed to have dispersed the protest because they had not been notified by its organisers. In reality in 2006 the Federal High Court granted an order of perpetual injunction “restraining the Defendant (the Inspector-General of Police) whether by himself, his agents, privies and servants from further preventing the Plaintiffs and other aggrieved citizens of Nigeria from organizing or convening peaceful assemblies, meetings and rallies against unpopular government measures and policies,” thereby ensuring the right to hold a peaceful protest without permission from the police. Following an objection, the ruling was subsequently upheld unanimously by the Court of Appeal.

A peaceful protest by hundreds of women at the Zangon Kataf LGA, Secretariat, which was also staged on 8 August, passed without incident.

CSW’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: “Calls for effective action to address the appalling situation in southern Kaduna are growing louder. CSW welcomes and echoes those in the Nigerian entertainment industry who have spoken out regarding the relentless loss of life. We continue to call for urgent international interventions, including the convening of a special session of the UN Human Rights Council, with particular focus on the current crisis in southern Kaduna and Plateau State. We are also deeply concerned that the Nigerian authorities continue to crack down on peaceful protesters in flagrant violation of the Federal High Court injunction, the national constitution, and the nation’s obligations under both the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We urge the Nigerian government to respect the rights to peaceful assembly and association, to end the targeting of those who peacefully draw attention to human rights violations, and to instead focus its resources on addressing the multiplicity of armed non-state actors who are terrorising its citizens.”