To go back home is to die of hunger, starvation, survivors declare
The area is very calm for now – Police
From NOAH EBIJE, Kaduna
It is 21 days, since after Goska village, in Jema’a Council was attacked, by suspected Fulani herdsmen. But the survivors are still living in fear. In fact, they told Saturday Sun, in a recent encounter that they are afraid to return home.
Last Sunday, many of the victims, as well as their sympathisers stormed various churches in black attires to mourn all those who have so far been killed by the Fulani herdsmen, including those killed in Goska village, on the eve of Christmas.
Speaking with Saturday Sun, some of the survivors of the Goska killings said the town had been rendered a ghost settlement, with almost every house burnt to ashes, just as farm produce and land, have all been reduced to debris.
To this end, they expressed the hopelessness that if they should return home from their respective locations and refugee camps, they might not be able to withstand the rigour of life, owing to lack of food and shelter.
One of the survivors, a former council Chairman and two time member of Kaduna State House of Assembly, Honourable Gideon Yakubu Morik, who lost a 14-year old daughter, his house and two vehicles, told Saturday Sun in a chat that life cannot be the same again for the Goska people because they have lost their life savings to the attackers.
Morik, 48, further said, “I am a native of Goska village of Jema’a local government of Kaduna State. I am a former Local Government Chairman of Jema’a. Our village was attacked by Fulani herdsmen on December 24, 2016 at 6.pm when we were celebrating the Christmas eve. I was a two time member of Kaduna State House of Assembly; I was a local government chairman. But I am now into farming, I am now a ginger farmer. In fact, that was what kept me at home. I was harvesting my ginger before this ugly incident.
“I also buy ginger and export them. The harvest is good this year, but two of my ginger farms were set ablaze by these Fulani herdsmen. So I am short of supply of ginger this year, but I cannot return to the village now until there is peace and food to eat, because without food, we will die of hunger and starvation. As it is now, many of our people are afraid to go back, not to talk of back to the village, looking for food.
“The whole of my house was burnt, and apart from the shirt, trousers and a pair of shoes on me, everything inside the house was burnt to ashes. My mother was not at home at the time of the incident, but her 2-room apartment was burnt. Two of my vehicles were burnt to ashes. The worst of all is that my daughter who was an SS2 student was killed that evening. I have seven children. The one they killed was 14 years old, and she was schooling in Abuja,” he said, with an emotion laden voice.
Explaining the level of destructions, Morik, disclosed that 14 persons were killed, 12 wounded, and four others still missing till date, adding that about 80 houses were set ablaze by the herdsmen, as any good looking house, was reduced to debris.
On how he escaped, the former State lawmaker, said: “I was in the house when I heard the gunshot. I ran towards the gate, and my wife quickly started her own car, picked the other children and I also picked other people in my car, manoeuvered my way through the village, and escaped.
“As I was driving through the village, I also pointed at a particular place for people to go and hide, and after sometime the policemen came, and the whole thing subsided.”
However, his 14 year old daughter was not so lucky, as she was hit by the herdsmen.
Hear him: “My 14 year old daughter ran out earlier with two other persons when they heard the gun shot, and unfortunately, she ran towards the Fulani people, where they gunned her down with other persons. And that was how she couldn’t escape with me.”
Explaining further why the Fulani herdsmen, caught them napping, the former Council chairman said: “previously, we heard that these herdsmen have a roadmap of where to attack, so when they attacked Godogodo, and some of our people from Godogodo took refuge in our village, we started hearing rumour that these Fulani people were planning to attack Goska. So we were at alert, but being festive period, we were a bit relaxed, and if not that we were very careful too, we would have recorded not less than 100 corpses. If they had come in the night, nobody would have escaped, but they came when it was a little bit bright, and moreover, most houses in the village are mud houses which bullets cannot easily penetrate, so this was how many people escaped,” Morik, said.
He told Saturday Sun that he was in the Church last Sunday in Kaduna, for the mourning and prayers, for the dead, as directed by the national headquarters of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, adding that everybody that came to church was in the mourning mood.
“I felt bad that in a country that we call our own, some people will be traumatised.
I picked my daughter’s corpse on Christmas day and deposited it in a mortuary, and a week later, I buried her. Though it was not a befitting burial, it was better than to just throw away the corpse.
“My daughter was not a criminal; she died an innocent death in the hands of criminals. All of my children are schooling. Two of them are in the university.
We are appealing to the State and federal government to provide security for us so that we can go about our normal life. Government has to be sincere in tackling this crisis because instead of uniting us, it is dividing the people of the State,” he cautioned.
Another survivor, Ibrahim Bako, 54, an indigene of Gasko village, and a civil servant, also told Saturday Sun that all his houses, three blocks in the same compound, were all burnt to ashes.
Like Morik, Bako’s farm produce for 2016, were also burnt to ashes, adding that “we have nothing to eat now, so returning home to start life all over is very difficult. I don’t buy food stuff because I farm a lot. But all the food stuff was also carted away by the Fulani herdsmen.”
Again, like Morik, he said they got wind that the attackers were comeing but said “we did not know when the attack will take place. And before the day of the attack, these herdsmen had earlier destroyed our farm land just to provoke us.
It was unfortunate that our vigilante group was caught off guard. They were keeping vigil on the community, but they relaxed bit because of the preparation for Christmas.
“So as we were escaping from the killers, some villagers unknowingly ran towards our primary school where the gun-carrying Fulani men had taken position. Those that tried to escape through the primary school were gunned down. But I was able to escape with my five children, we ran through a route out of the village. Their mother was away in Kaduna at the time of the attack, so nothing happened to her,” Bako, said.
And like every average Southern Kaduna person, Bako believes that the government had abandoned them, saying “we are facing injustice in our land because government has abandoned us; we are not given our rights. We are left to secure ourselves each time these herdsmen attack Southern Kaduna community. Government should be able to live up to its responsibility, irrespective of wherever the attack takes place in the State”.
Support from churches
Following the directive given by CAN, most Churches in Kaduna metropolis last Sunday mobilised and appealed for donation of relief materials and cash to victims of the bloody crises in Southern Kaduna.
The worshippers, also appeared in black attires, as directed by CAN, to mourn and pray for the victims.
On his part, Pastor James Danladi of First Baptist Church, Kawo, Kaduna asked the State Governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai to apologise to the people of Southern Kaduna over the alleged provocative statements, he made on the killings.
Speaking in the same vein, the Catholic Bishop of Kaduna Archdiocese, Bishop Matthew Mano’so Ndagoso passed an order to all the Deaneries under his diocese to donate money and relief materials to the victims.
Consequently, second offerings, running into thousands of naira, were collected to in all Catholic churches under the dioceses, Saturday Sun, learnt.
According to Bishop Ndagoso, officials of Justice for Peace and Development (JPD), a charity organisation arm of the Catholic Church, would convey the relief materials and cash to the victims within the week.
Also, Senior Pastor, ECWA Goodnews Church, Narayi, Kaduna, Reverend Ishaya Gajere, thanked officials of CAN for setting aside the day to mourn all those killed in the Southern Kaduna crises.
Pastor Gajere, who spoke with journalists shortly after last Sunday’s Sermon, said the church would continue to pray for peace to reign in the State and Nigeria in general.
Hear him: “We were able to raise some money and relief materials from members of this church for onward transfer to the victims of Southern Kaduna crises, and we will continue to pray to God so that we can do more”.
Police and peace keeping operations
At a press conference, state Commissioner of Police, Agyole Abeh, revealed that the Command needed about one million police men to effectively cover the nooks and crannies of Southern Kaduna.
The Police boss also emphasized the need for people of the area, to cooperate with the Police through dialogue, insisting that dialogue remains the surest way to resolving differences.
According to him, the Police was already using 40 patrol vehicles, and have since deployed more men to the area, just as it would soon come up with strategies that would reduce the spate of crime, not only in Southern Kaduna, but across the State, in general.
“As I speak to you, the area is very calm and there is no record of any incident after the unfortunate major incident in Goska. We have deployed enough of our men on ground to ensure that they curb any acts of lawlessness.
“Like I always say, if you bring the whole Police in Nigeria, to Southern Kaduna, we cannot achieve the desired result without the people. The people themselves must be prepared to embrace peace and must accommodate one another.”
On whether there have been any arrest and prosecution in connection with the Southern Kaduna crisis, he said, “we have a number of people that have been arrested and we are going to arrest more, because we have evidences. It is just that we are following them gradually. We have been charging a lot of suspected criminals to courts.
“We also intend to, within the next few weeks, come up with various strategies to curb some menace like drug addiction among youths which has become a source of concern. That is why we said community policing remains the only option while parents also need to bring up their children in a Godly way”.
He however disagreed with the number of death reported in some media, over the Southern Kaduna crisis, saying the figure was exaggerated. But he also could not give any figure.