Noah Ebije, Kaduna, Molly Kilete, Abuja
The Supreme Council for Shari’ah in Nigeria (SCSN) has called for the revisit of the death sentence passed on prominent sons of Zango-Kataf following the 1992 bloody crisis saying the law must be allowed to take its full course.
The 1992 incident which claimed the lives of hundreds of persons occurred during President Ibrahim Babangida regime, which set up a tribunal, headed by the late Justice Pius Okadigbo to try Maj-Gen. Zamani Lekwot (retd), late Major James Atomic Kude (retd) and other Kataf indigenes alleged to have been complicit in the crisis.
Justice Okadigbo in his judgment had sentenced Lekwot, Kude, Yohanna Karau Kibori, Marcus Mamman, Yahaya Duniya and Julius Sarki Zamman Dabo to death by hanging over complicity in the crisis. Lekwot and the other convicts, however, were granted state pardon in 1995 by Gen. Sani Abacha.
Secretary of the SCSN, AbdurRahman Hassan, at a press conference, yesterday, said all those sentenced to death, but pardoned by the military regime, should be executed by the present government.
“We want those pardoned in 1992 during Zango-Kataf crises, after being condemned to death to be executed now, because that is the only way peace will return to the area. Till now Zonkwa is still a ghost town. Surprisingly Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Southern Kaduna People’s Union ( SOKAPU) and their allies had never cried foul in the massacre of innocent law abiding citizens on the account of their faith. Many more ethno-religious crises continued to occur in Kasuwan Magani, Kajuru, Zangon Kataf and some other places,” Hassan said.
Hassan said after every crisis in the area, a commission of enquiry is usually inaugurated, but the reports submitted to the government never implemented.
“For instance, late Justice Pius Okadigbo’s tribunal on the Zangon Kataf crises, found Gen. Zamani Lekwot and others guilty of the massacre that took place there and were sentenced to death, but they were later pardoned. That was what opened the floodgate of violence, mayhem, upheavals and total breakdown of law and order in that axis, which is ravaging the area till today,because some people felt they are above the law. The Council have been saying time without number that all those found guilty in these crimes against humanity, must face the wrath of the law,” he said.
When asked to react to the position of the Shari’ah Council, President of the Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU), Jonathan Asake said: “I can’t comment on it without seeing the press briefing.”
Military deploys special operations
The Defence Headquarters has said in its efforts to curb the recent attacks and isolated killings in Southern Kaduna, it has deployed special operations forces to various flash points in the area.
Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. John Enenche, stated this at the updates briefing on military operations across the country in Abuja.
“In a bid to curb the recent attacks and isolated killings in Southern Kaduna, troops of Operation Safe Haven have continued to intensify efforts aimed at securing the lives and property in the general area. Particularly, Special Operations Forces have been deployed to the Joint Operations Area covering the various flash points. This move is expected to achieve the desired result with the provision of credible and actionable intelligence specifically from primary sources,” he said.
Enenche, however, urged the locals to cooperate with the military by supplying credible and reliable information that would help troop in their operations.
He also urged the public not to give false information on the issue of terrorism or banditry in Kaduna.
Eneche denied the allegation that the troops in Baga were indulging in other activities other than fighting the war, stressing that the allegation was unfounded and baseless.
According to him, “for the past one month, we have witnessed downward trend in the activities of armed bandits and cattle rustlers in the general areas of Katsina, Kebbi, Zamfara, Sokoto and adjoining states.
“Most of these criminal elements have been decimated. Gradually there is restoration of human activities in the zone. Farmers have returned to their farms, while other economic activities have picked up across the zone. The troops have continued to dominate the general area with clearance patrols, aggressive fighting patrols and confidence-building patrols.
“The High Military Command congratulates the troops for the feat recorded and encourages the good people of the zone to continue to provide credible information to the troops,” he said.
Enenche said the military had also continued to sustain the tempo in the fight against terrorism in the North East with attendant successes.
He said that within the period under review, there had been reduction in the number of incidences recorded so far from the zone.
“That is an evidence of troops overwhelming superiority over the criminal elements which have drastically degraded the operational capabilities of the BHT/ISWAP elements. Troops have also sustained the clearance operations, aggressive patrols and intelligence surveillance reconnaissance missions, sustained air offensive operations as well as artillery and aerial bombardments in the theatre of operation,” he said.
Cleric chides Presidency on spike in crime rate, Southern Kaduna killings
General Supervisor of ThankGod Awaited Liberation Ministry, Ikeja, Lagos, Prophet Francis Onwudiwe Otukwu, has flayed the Presidency over the continued killings in Southern Kaduna and the increasing rate of blood-letting by criminal elements in the country.
He also decried the sleaze by political office-holders and civil servants amid crushing poverty, debilitating unemployment and absence of social nets, despite the fast-spreading pandemic in an environment of inadequate health-care facilities.
Prophet Otukwu was speaking at the 14th anniversary of the church with the theme “Jesus is the way” (John 14:6). He regretted the growing incidents of crimes, like ritual killings and rape in which some churches have been implicated, adding: “It is unfortunate that even at this end-time, people who call themselves Christians engage in shameful immoral and despicable acts because of their inordinate quest for instant wealth, fame and funs of life.”
On rising wave of killings by bandits, herdsmen, kidnappers, cultists and armed robbers across the country, he reiterated his earlier call on the Federal Government to urgently re-examine the nation’s security architecture in the light of the near-total breakdown of law and order in parts of the country, including the performance of the Nigerian military against the terrorist Boko Haram fighters in the North-East, which governors in the zone berated last week.
“What convincing reasons will the Presidency and Kaduna State government offer for the prolonged one-sided killings going on in Southern Kaduna, in the presence of Nigerian soldiers and policemen?” he queried. The cleric said the trend leaves much to be desired about equity and fairness in the country.
He also wondered how the Presidency hopes to persuade Nigerians on commitment to the war against corruption, when public office holders and civil servants, including federal legislators are being implicated in stealing public funds, either directly or through inflated contracts that were not executed even after the politicians have been fully paid.