Sola Ojo, Kaduna
Dr. Solomon Musa is the president of the Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU), the umbrella body for all ethnic nationalities in southern Kaduna. He speaks on the happenings in his area where several people have been killed and properties destroyed, including seeking permission to create a state or southern Kaduna nation should both the state and the Federal Government no longer see his people as indigenes and citizens.
Unrest in parts of Southern Kaduna is appears to be one too many, what is really going on in Kajuru and Sanga Local Government Areas?
In my view, I think what is going on is well calculated genocide and ethnic cleansing. Let’s look at it, all the villages that have been destroyed are villages in Kajuru belonging to ethnic nationalities. Let me say this that with all sense of responsibility, every figure that has been quoted on the casualty rate is verifiable. We told them if there is an assertion that says so, so and so people have been killed in a particular village, we should be able to show their graves. And if there is a need for exhumation, we are prepared. But the minimum standard we are asking for is that, the same should be applied across the board.
If it is Hausa, if it is Adara people, if it is a Muslim or Christian, let it be across the board. Now, why am I saying it is genocide, like I told you, if you look at the number of villages that have been wiped out in Kajuru, are those of a particular ethnic nationality, and as at March 21, no security presence in all these villages.
The governor knew by his press engagement when he said 66 Fulani were killed and later 130, that there was possibility of what he called reprisal. After his engagement with the press, the question is if he has suspected the likelihood of reprisal, did he ensure that there was security presence all over Kajuru so as to forestall any such anticipated impending attacks?
And so, if there was none, it means people are just sitting on the dust. Secondly, the governor in 2016 told the world that he knew the identities of the attackers, he said they are Fulani from some Africa countries, that his government sat with them and they were paid compensation. So, it means then that the government knows the identities of those attackers from 14 African countries. And if they know, they paid them compensation and killing are still going on, then, it tells us that they know the group of people that want to wipe out ethnic nationalities in southern Kaduna.
Just about a week ago, in Sanga again, a whole village was reduced to rubble, leaving in its wrecks a tale of tears, more widows, orphans. Let me find out, in Kajuru, did the government agencies like NEMA or SEMA do anything to alleviate suffering of the people? So, it appears then that certainly, there is something somewhere that is going on.
Do you have the latest statistics on the number of displaced persons in all the affected communities?
We are currently working and coming up with something very concrete, verifiable information as the number of persons that have been displaced. Several thousands have been displaced. Very soon we will give a comprehensive statement that provides all the details of the affected people. I want to tell you that several thousands of people have been rendered destitute; the widows, the widowers, the aged, pregnant women, living on the mercies of men and women of goodwill.
Go to the hospitals and see them. There are certain villages where nothing is moving there. With all that, no one from the side of the government is trying to do anything for them for whatever reason. Kajuru was jumped over and when it happened in Sanga, the SEMA took something there, some cosmetic relief measure.
What is your organisation doing to put an end to the incessant attacks in Southern Kaduna, is there any ongoing negotiation in that regard?
Here are people who were sleeping in their homes without provocation, who have not attack anyone. The criminals came under heavy ammunitions; they were slaughtered with cutlasses and machetes. Guns were used, houses were burnt. Did you see pictures of what happened in Sanga where people were roasted alive? Absolutely, no provocation of any nature other than somebody, who incited the people by telling them that, ‘look, this and this were the villages that Fulani were killed, ‘he said he was doing that to avoid reprisal. When the Adara villages were attacked, did you hear him say anything? Why didn’t he give the ethnic nationality of the people? Why didn’t he mention the villages? Why didn’t he mention the name of the people? Event happened in 2016, he never did. So, it was very clear that somebody was just playing a script?
Why is it difficult for the government to marshal air power, to marshal ground troops, to marshal security forces all over before the attacks, during the attacks and after the attacks? Why? Something smells somewhere. So, it is extremely difficult to say stop. If it were a fight, fighting between two people, it would have been easier. But this is just manslaughter of defenseless people, people who have not done anything. Government is unwilling.
What we told the world is that, it appears the governor of Kaduna State does not need a southern Kaduna man. And if nothing is done from the side of Federal Government, then we will take note that the Federal Government does not need the southern Kaduna person. In which case, it is a simple thing. Just come out and say ‘these people, we don’t need you. ‘ Southern Kaduna can stand as a nation on its own within a nation. There are nations within a nation. That is the truth. We are bigger than Togo; we are bigger than Singapore and several other countries. If government is not prepared, like I always say all these years, Southern Kaduna people and any people that have been attacked, have a right to protect and defend themselves in accordance with the laws. We should never take the laws into our hands. Never! But where you are not being protected like we saw in the North-East, there was civilian JTF. If you can build a house, if you can afford a fence, you can bring in security men.
You can get security dogs for your protection. Your protection should not be an offence. We always tell our people never to go on any reprisal mission. But the constitution of the country, extant domestic instrument, and extant international instrument permits someone to use all available legal means to protect and defend himself. But we are hoping that the Federal Government will do something about it.
Are people from Fulani settlements bringing something to the table to see how everyone can live in peace once more?
I will not be able to answer that question on what they are bringing on the table. It is difficult. That question perhaps should be directed at the Fulani or more appropriately, El-Rufai should be asked because he knows them. We don’t know the attackers. But let me say this, after the assertion by the government, all the principal leaders of Adara land have been incarcerated for more than a month. Here is the situation where the victims and their leaders have been arrested. The people that governor said are the attackers are being compensated. Now, with all the attacks in Adara land and Sanga, did anyone hear or see any one Fulani man being arrested? How comes, when it comes to other ethnic nationals, government is unable or is it unwilling to arrest the attackers. But the victims are harassed, their houses were searched, they were humiliated. I don’t know what they want to bring from 14 Africa countries. Are they to bring their weapons and lay it down? They have been compensated; they collected the compensation and possibly buy more guns we don’t know.
If truly, it is the Adara leaders that have been attacking people or causing violence, of course they have been in detention. They were in detention when all their villages were attacked. So, who is the cause then? I kept saying why is it that it is when it comes to arrest, it is only certain group of people that are targeted. It appears somebody hates southern Kaduna people with so much. That person has made up his mind that these people must be humiliated which is rather unfortunate. A person who is supposed to be a father to all has chosen to hate, victimise and divide. We never have it this bad.
Are there possibilities of peace returning to Southern Kaduna?
Yes, there are possibilities. We are determined, we have always been hospitable, and we have always been inherently peaceful people. We are not designed to fight anyone. We will not fight anyone. There will be perpetual peace if those attackers from the 14 Africa countries are placed on the run. We are prepared but here is a government that appeared to hate southern Kaduna people.
If you don’t want to live with us, give us our own state. If you don’t want us to be part of Nigeria, let us have our independent southern Kaduna nation. If you know we are your problem, why are you coveting our land? Release us, let us go. We hope those that are not prepared for peace will change.
How will you describe the security response when distress calls are put through to security agencies during such attacks?
Security response has been very poor. They ought to have been proactive if there is sincerity. You went and make inciting statements and you were not proactive to deploy security personnel, drones and aircrafts at least, for some time around that side. He did not do that. No security presence, and when the attack took place, it went on, they have a field day for two to three days. In 2016, our people in coastal area were shut in under 24-hour-curfew. But the criminals, the marauders were allowed to move about, killing our people. This was just a repeat. You raised the alarm and you did not mobilise security people.