(By Sola Ojo – KADUNA)
Following a controversial media report that Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, said he had paid Fulani herdsmen to stop the killings in southern Kaduna, PDP senator representing Kaduna South Senatorial Zone, Danjuma Tella La’ah, has described the development as a reckless disregard for the plight of 19 affected communities.
Senator La’ah also faulted the threat by the state government to arrest and prosecute those who are calling on the people of southern Kaduna to defend themselves since government has failed in that responsibility, saying that he (La’ah) should be the first to be arrested as he has also suggested same.
In a swift reaction, the governor refuted the statement, saying he never said he paid Fulani herdsmen to stop the killings, but was only trying to implement a white paper report by late governor Ibrahim Yakowa, which suggested compensation of cattle that were killed during the 2011 post-election crisis.
El-Rufai clarified that he had resuscitated the former governor’s initiative, by persuading aggrieved Fulanis to forgive the losses which they had suffered in the 2011 post-election violence, and that some of them responded by asking for compensation for their loss of cattle.
Senator La’ah’s statement pointed to “the outcome of Newspapers’ and online captions (not The Sun) quoting Governor Nasir el-Rufai as saying that he has had to trace some of the murderous herdsmen that have been killing defenceless, innocent southern Kaduna natives and destroying their villages. The news sources said that after tracing them, he told them that he was also a Fulani man and paid them sums of money to stop the massacre, burning and tearing down of scores of communities in southern Kaduna.
“I wish to state that these statements are not only unfortunate, callous, insensitive, crude and demeaning of his office and intelligence, it throws him up as a bigot and we feel he is culpable in the ongoing genocide in southern Kaduna.
“I am pleading with Kaduna State indigenes and residents to ask why he has stubbornly refused to render basic assistance of rebuilding of even a home, or any form of monetary assistance to the surviving victims in southern Kaduna. Most are still left without food and shelter, despite the modest assistance that some of us, churches, NGOs, etc have continued to render from time to time,” he said.
La’ah called on all Kaduna State natives, all Hausa and Fulani of the area, who are genuinely interested in peace to forget about political, tribal and religious leanings and come together in prayer and to foster genuine dialogue among themselves as the last option left for peace and security in southern Kaduna.
Speaking at a news conference, the Special Assistant to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Mr Samuel Aruwan clarified that El Rufai never paid herdsmen money in order to either appease or arm them as widely reported in the media.
Aruwan, who lamented the distortion of what the governor said in an interview with some journalists last week, said that “government is combining security action with dialogue and peace-building efforts in southern Kaduna.”
He noted that El-Rufai has continued what was admirable in the peace efforts of late Governor Patrick Yakowa, and would do whatever is legitimate to secure lasting peace in the area, adding that late Yakowa tried to foster reconciliation with the affected Fulani communities, in order to stem the spiral of vengeance and reprisals.
“El Rufai built on Yakowa’s peace building efforts by setting up the General Martin Luther Agwai Peace and Reconciliation Committee to look into the crises in Southern Kaduna,” he said.
Aruwan concluded that Senator La’ah was “responding to the mischievous headline published by his campaign spokesman, who moonlights as the Vanguard reporter in Kaduna. This reporter, who was not present during the governor’s recent media interview, wrote a story that was bereft of context and was laced with a dangerous headline.”