Okwe Obi, Abuja
Peacebuilders under the umbrella of Southern Kaduna Peace Practitioners (SOKIPEP) has cautioned residents of Southern part of Kaduna State against making inflammatory remarks capable of truncating the efforts of the military to restore peace.
The National Coordinator of SOKIPEP, Rev Dauda Fadia, in a statement said the appeal came following a statement credited to some residents under the umbrella of Southern Kaduna Peoples Union, (SOKAPU) which laid claim to some communities, local councils as well as dominance in population in Southern Kaduna.
SOKAPU, at a meeting with the Commander of OPSH in Plateau State, argued with the military over land mass and number of communities.
It said its assertion was ‘based on the 2006 census population figures and noted that “out of 46,000 Sq km, Southern Kaduna covers 26,000sqkm and has 57 registered ethnic nationalities, out of the 67 identified ones.’
Fadia, however, picked holes in SOKAPU’s position, contending that the argument was needless and baseless.
He said: ‘We read the story imputing these claims with utter dismay and disappointment given that as our umbrella body, SOKAPU should have known the better way to present our case during its meeting than trying to lay bare issues that could throw up public debates, thus inflame religious and ethnic passions,the resultant effect of which could be frustration of the peace efforts being driven by the military and other stakeholders.
‘As a body of Southern Kaduna indigenes actively involved in the peace process, we wish to state that in as much as we appreciate SOKAPU for not only taking that bold initiative to present some issues responsible for the crises in Southern Kaduna, we wish to unequivocally state without fear, favour or sentiment that these issues which we deem capable of drawing ethnic and religious attention were unnecessary.
‘To state the obvious, the claims coming at a time the Nigerian Military and other organizations are already at its last stage of concluding the ongoing peace building process it is spearheading, is not only unwarranted, but also unfortunate and counter productive in the current peace efforts going on Southern Kaduna.
‘We, therefore, call on all people of good conscience to ignore the said statement in its entirety as it did not get the endorsement of peace loving and well meaning southern kaduna people.
‘We also want to call on some people who may have political aspirations not to use our esteem platform SOKAPU as a vehicle for their ambition using the unfortunate crisis without minding the implications of their actions on the general wellbeing of peace loving Southern Kaduna people.
‘As professional peace builders, we feel this is not the time to throw blames and point accusing fingers but a time to begin the process of genuine forgiveness, reconciliation and resettlement of displaced people as well as trauma healing process for victims of the unfortunate attack in our communities.
‘As our umbrella body, we expect SOKAPU to lead the way for genuine peace rather than issuing such statement at this time that normalcy has began to return to the area and peace process is ongoing.
‘The life of our women, children and everyone in Southern Kaduna must be put first into consideration before any other interest we have.
‘Accusations and counter accusations have not solved any problem in the past and will not do so in the future. At this point we should be working closely with all arms of government and stakeholders to get a permanent solution to the conflicts so that people can return to their communities.
‘Again, we wish to call on Governor Nasir El-rufai to come to the aid of Southern Kaduna in terms of relief items as our people are in great pains.’