■ How women sacked monarch over killing of pigs
■ 7 die, 50 injured in protests over alleged killing of 200 pigs
From JOHN ADAMS, Minna
Until recently, Kafin-Koro in Paikoro Local Government Area of Niger State, was a sleepy, peaceful farming community with over 100,000 inhabitants made up of the Koro ethnic group, Kadara, Gbagy and some Hausa settlers. It is predominantly Christian and one of the most peaceful communities in the state where various ethnic groups had co-habited for over 40 years.
However, the peace hitherto enjoyed in the community was ruptured two weeks ago when the natives, the Koro, engaged some Hausa settlers in a bloody clash over the alleged killings of about 300 pigs belonging to some women in the community, their major source of livelihood.
A 47-year-old woman, Hauwa Luka, who, like several other women in the community had used proceeds from the sales of pigs to train her children in school as well as cater for other needs, said she lost seven of her pigs to the crises.
Trouble started when a pig was alleged to have exhumed the body of a five-year-old boy from a Muslim cemetery and consumed it. The situation triggered a protest from Muslim youths, though minority settlers converged on the residence of the District Head to lodge a complaint.
What seemed a mere show of displeasure turned violent when the youths went on rampage, moving from house to house in search of women whom they molested, and killing any pig in sight. When the dust settled, over 200 pigs were allegedly killed.
Irked by the development, the women whose spouses were said to be at their farms when the Muslim youths struck, mobilised and stormed the palace of the District Head, Alhaji Abubakar Mamman, on whose instruction, the youths allegedly acted. Numbering over 300, the women packed the dead pigs and dumped them at the palace.
A frightened Mamman, according to reports, fled his palace and took cover elsewhere, for fear of being humiliated by the angry women who said their means of livelihood had been taken away from them. They occupied the palace with the dead pigs until a detachment of anti-riot policemen dispersed them. The police also evacuated the dead pigs from the palace.
Few hours after, tempers flared again. Some youths who are natives of the community believed to be children of the women whose pigs were killed, embarked on a reprisal, destroying properties belonging to those suspected to have been involved in the killing of the pigs.
As tension mounted, the deputy governor, Alhaji Ahmed Ketso, visited the troubled community in company with the local council chairman, John Makarfi, to calm frayed nerves. But shortly after he left, the youths armed with dangerous weapons, took to the streets again, chanting war songs and seeking the blood of persons suspected to have killed the pigs.
At the end of the two-day clash, no fewer than seven persons lost their lives over 50 were injured, while properties worth millions of Naira were destroyed. The palace of the District Head was deserted as he remained in hiding along with members of his family.
A spokesman of the palace, Ahmed Danladi, (Sarkin Samari) told Daily Sun that the District Head did not order anyone to attack and kill pigs:
“Actually, the Mai’ Angwar (Area Head) came to the District Head to report that a pig had exhumed the body of a five-year-old boy and ate it. The District Head then directed that the matter be reported to the police. Thereafter, the police accompanied by me and other people from the palace, went to the scene and saw the body parts of the boy littered around.
“We saw the body in parts and the policemen snapped it for record purposes and we left. But shortly after, we heard that some boys mobilized themselves and started killing pigs in the community.” He noted that no pig was found at the cemetery when they visited.
A resident, Timothy Yakubu, dismissed the allegation that a pig exhumed a corpse at the cemetery as a ploy to eliminate pigs from the community: “Our women have been in this pig business for over 40 years and the community has never experienced a situation where pigs exhumed dead bodies from grave; it has never happened.
“Everything was a frame-up because some people say pig is against their religion. After killing their pigs, they attacked our women who embarked on a peaceful protest against the killing of their pigs. We have the right to defend ourselves. Nobody can intimidate us in our village. We are very accommodating but anybody who does not like our ways of life have the choice to leave.”
Some of the women described the killing of their pigs as an attempt to impoverish them. Grace John, a 48-year-old mother of five who has been in pig business for 10 years, lost 12 of her pigs bemoaned the crisis. Her parents used proceeds from the pig business to train her and three other of her siblings in school even though she did not complete her secondary education:
“Now, I am using this pig business to train my two children in school. There are also widows among us who rely on this business as a means of livelihood after the death of their spouses.”
Similarly, Jummai Baba, 52, who lost her husband to snake bite 12 years ago, said she lost seven pigs: “Since my husband died, it is pig business that has been sustaining us. Now, two of my children are in College of Education, while the last one has just finished secondary school and is seeking admission into university, all from proceeds of my pig business. They killed seven of my pigs, and destroyed the huts where they are kept because they said we should not allow the pigs roam around.”