Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-rufai on Wednesday inaugurated a 12-man Commission of Inquiry into Kajuru killings, and charged them to identify the individuals involved and remote and immediate cause of the killings.
Major towns in Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State were involved in communal crises between 2017 and 2019 with many people killed.
Chairman of the commission, Justice Isa Aliyu, who is the judge of the Kaduna State High Court told journalists shortly after the inauguration: “We will work hard to get to the root causes of the crisis and make recommendations to the government. We hope that the recommendations will be looked into by the government. With the calibre of people on the commission, we will ensure that we meet the three-month deadline given to us.”
However, El-rufai said the commission is, “to inquire into or investigate, ascertain and identify the immediate and remote causes of all instances of disturbances from 2017 to date in Kajuru, Kachia, Chikun LGAs and surrounding communities.
“Identify individuals, traditional and religious institutions and other associations that might have contributed to the build-up of the disturbances and recommend further action by government.
“Assess and determine the extent of loss of lives and property and other forms of damage caused during the disturbances and identify the perpetrators of the dastardly acts for further action by government.”
There were major convulsions in that axis, at least twice in 2018. This had had spill-over effects into neighbouring places, including Kaduna metropolis as was witnessed in October 2018. This year alone, mass killings and displacements were reported in communities within Kajuru LGA in February and March.
“Amidst the contending narratives by the parties involved in the conflict, the Kaduna State government is persuaded that building sustainable peace in the area requires that all the facts around the episodes of violent conflict be established.
“Therefore, while visiting Karamai community in Kajuru LGA on March 2, 2019, I announced that the Kaduna State government had decided to establish a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the communal conflict in Kajuru local government area.”
Other members of the commission include, AVM Abdullahi Shehu (rtd.) who was the Deputy Defence Attaché at the Nigerian High Commission in London and was later Deputy Commandant of the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna; Mr. B. C. Osuji who served in the Kaduna State Command of the SSS as an Assistant Director; AIG UU Shehu (rtd.), a Commissioner of Police in Kaduna State; Mrs. Hannatu Ugah a retired Head of Service, Kaduna State; Rear Admiral Ferguson Bobai (rtd.) a Flag Officer Commanding, Western Navy Command and retired Chief of Training and Operations at the headquarters of the Nigerian Navy.
Also, on the on the inquiry are, Alhaji Auwal Aliyu Damau, a retired Permanent Secretary in the Kaduna State Civil Service; Muhammad Sani Isa, a trained mediator and Director in the Interfaith Mediation Centre; Reverend Dr. Yusuf Biniyat, Senior Pastor of the ECWA Church and Executive Secretary of the ECWA Kaduna South District Church Council; Salim Musa Umar, an associate of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, who has been active in peace building in Kaduna and Plateau states.
El-rufai noted that, “Salim and his colleagues were responsible for drafting the Kafanchan Peace Declaration that we signed early in 2016.”
Barrister Edward Andow, Director of Commercial Law in the Ministry of Justice, is the Secretary to the Commission; Barrister M.I. Aliyu, Director of Citizens Right Department, will serve as counsel to the commission.
The governor further mandated the commission to “make any other recommendations to government consequential to or related to any or all these terms of reference.
“In the light of the commission’s findings, it recommended appropriate legal and other actions to be taken against those responsible for the disturbances.
“The Commission of Inquiry is expected to make appropriate recommendations to government on steps to be taken to forestall future occurrence of such disturbances.
“The commission will have no more than three months to conclude its work, post-inauguration.
“You have all been chosen for this very difficult assignment due to the in-depth knowledge you have of Kaduna State, or expertise in the areas of security management, conflict and peace-building as well your established objectivity in assessment of situations and people. One of the problems that has driven conflict in Kaduna State is that people have taken sides in these conflicts, not based on reason but along ethnic or religious lines.
“We are confident that from the track record f the chairman and members of the commission, you are well above that. We have selected the members from all parts of the country, but with in-depth knowledge of Kaduna State, because we believe that the conflict in Kajuru and surrounding areas is of interest to the entire nation. Every Nigerian has a stake in knowing what is happening in Kajuru and surrounding communities.
“The Kaduna State government expects that the work of the judicial commission of inquiry will not only establish the facts but will also help government and the communities involved to advance peace and justice.
“While this Judicial Commission of Inquiry was being constituted, the state government and the local government council have taken steps to stabilise the situation in the area. Security detachments are emplaced in the Kajuru axis, and the Nigerian Air Force has established a Forward Operating Base and we also have detachments of the police and civil defence present there. Peace dialogue among the communities have been encouraged by the Kaduna State Peace Commission and the Kajuru Local Government Council.
“The state government has also commenced rebuilding the Kasuwan Magani market that was burnt during the October 2018 conflict. The market is being modernised and expanded to accommodate previous shop owners as well as interested new entrants.
“It is our hope that community leaders will encourage people to lift their gaze above division, to embrace a common humanity and respect the right of everyone to life, liberty and legitimate livelihoods. The toll of death and suffering does not have to continue, if everyone does their duty for peace and harmony.”