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Fear, Anguish In Southern Kaduna Over Recurrent Killings

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Fear, anguish and gloom have once again engulfed parts of Kaduna’s southern senatorial district after a night attack claimed over 30 lives, while at least 200 homes were razed down on Sunday, March 20.

In a matter of hours, hundreds of residents of Agban community in Kagoro chiefdom and Maraban Kagoro, both in Kaura Local Government Area of the state, fled their communities.

Security agents answering a distress call were equally ambushed, and two personnel attached to the Operation Safe Haven, a multi-security taskforce of the Defence headquarters maintaining peace in Plateau State and parts of southern Kaduna had paid the ultimate price.

As the attack took a reprisal tendency and threatened to engulf Kafanchan in Jema’a and Zangon Kataf local government areas, the state government had to slam a 24-hour curfew on Kaura and Jema’s local government areas to avert further loss of lives. 

This, however, did not curtail several reprisal attacks that took place on highways in Kaura Local Government, as well as Fulani settlements of Zauru and Kurdan of Zangon Kataf.

The latest upheaval in southern Kaduna is the continuation of many years of mutual suspicion partly between the Fulani and the Atyap people.

Even though leaders of the various groups have identified other factors as responsible for the continued loss of lives and property in the affected communities, experts are of the opinion that both the federal and Kaduna State governments must fashion out a holistic roadmap that will bring peace.

Unforgettable moments

Speaking with Daily Trust, Maryam Zauru, whose community was attacked in the latest reprisal on Monday, March 21, 2022, said one of her relatives, Hussaini, was still missing while the rest of them are now taking refuge at Isa Muhammed LEA Primary School in Kafanchan, Jema’a Local Government Area of the state.

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“We used to live peacefully with our neighbours under Bajju chiefdom, but following the recent attacks in Kaura, some people came and attacked us and burnt all our properties.

“We are now homeless and taking refuge in a primary school. And we don’t have food and clothes,” she said

Daily Trust reports that the recent breakdown of law and order has created more suspicion while also sabotaging months of peace building efforts by the government, security agencies, religious and traditional leaders, as well as civil society organisations that have relentlessly engaged stakeholders and residents in months of peace process.

As dust begins to settle in southern Kaduna, Luka Abah, who survived the attack on Maraban Kagoro, narrated how he lost four members of his family and neighbours.

“I lost my father, mother and two of my children to the attackers. We were sitting at home on Sunday evening, and around 9pm we started hearing gunshots.

“Before we realised what was happening, there was pandemonium and people were running in various directions.

 “The attackers took advantage of the confusion and shot at will. While they continued to shoot as they advanced, another set of attackers were setting fire to our houses,” he said.

Gwafan Kefas, who also survived the attack on Agban in Kagoro chiefdom, said he lost three members of his family as they tried to rescue children and the elderly from the gunshots. 

 “We could have lost many more people if not for the foresight to quickly move children and the elderly to a safe location,” he said.

Derek Christopher, a resident of Agban community, said that due to the lack of camps for displaced persons in the area, their people, mostly women and children, were scattered across various communities in an effort to find succour among friends and relatives.

Our correspondent reports that a few hours before the attack on Agban and Maraban Kagoro, there had been peace meetings between the various tribes in the area.

It was gathered that three days earlier, a young herder identified as Aminu had climbed a mango tree to cut fresh leaves for the cattle he was rearing in Kaura and got into an altercation with some young men who claimed ownership of the tree. Aminu, it was gathered, was allegedly killed.

Twenty-four out of the cows were also killed and 25 others were missing.

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No serious measures to support us

Speaking on the issue, the Kaduna State spokesman of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Ibrahim Bayero, confirmed the killing of the herder and said no measure had been taken to condole his family.

While condemning the killings in Agban and Maraban Kagoro, the MACBAN state chairman, Haruna Usman Tugga, said the fact that some criminals attacked and killed innocent people a few hours after a peace meeting was an indication that there were merchants of crisis in the area.

In southern Kaduna, Kaura, Kauru and Zangon Kataf local government areas have witnessed a series of attacks and counterattacks recently, which have led to loss of lives and property. 

The first of the recent attacks around the axis occurred on January 30, 2022 in Kurmin Masara in Atyap chiefdom of Zangon Kataf Local Government Area.

The attackers had killed 11 people and burnt 30 houses, Daily Trust gathered.

Veronica Jerry from Kurmin Masara in Atyap chiefdom said the attackers had killed her 20-year-old nephew and his corpse was never seen by the family.

“Pictures of those killed were brought to us, including that of my nephew, but up till now, we haven’t seen his corpse,” she said.

Before the attack on Kurmin Masara, a Fulani herder was reportedly beheaded at the Zaman Dabo district of Atyap chiefdom.

Two days later, another Fulani herder was killed in Bakin Kogi market in Kauru Local Government Area.

Cause of recent attack

According to Bayero, the root cause of the renewed crises in Atyap chiefdom of Zango Kataf can be linked to the killing of the two Fulani herders who were grazing their cows.

He alleged that local armed militias who crossed the river from Kurmin Masara had attacked the herders and killed them.

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“The armed militias also went to the houses of the Fulani and burned them down with a one-year-old baby boy, Bilal Bukar in one of the rooms,” he said.

He said that days later, a 19-year-old herder was also killed at Ungwan Gankon village in Gora district of Zango Kataf .

We must live together – Atyap leader

However, the national president of Atyap Community Development Association (ACDA), Samuel Achi, said no matter the causes of the crisis, both Atyap and Fulani must put an end to the killings and learn to live with each other.

“It is time to stop killing ourselves in the name of ancestral land,” he said, adding that the causes of the killings in the area are numerous but can be reduced to the desire to grab lands by the conflicting parties.

On his part, the Kaduna State secretary of the youth wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Joel Adegboyega, said most of the conflicts in southern Kaduna could be avoided if the parties learnt to forgive one another.

“There should be forgiveness before it results into violent conflict. Attacking innocent travellers who know nothing about the local conflict is very wrong.

“People should stop taking laws into their hands, it is a very bad signal,” he said.

Also, the secretary, Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) in Jema’a Local Government Area, Alhaji Ilyasu Musa Kalla, said drug abuse and the mounting roadblocks to attack innocent travellers must stop.

He said government and security agencies must take drastic steps to stop the circulation of hard drugs among the youth and ensure they punish the perpetrators of the killings.

“We have lost many of our people on roads across southern Kaduna, just because of ethnicity or religion. The recent one is in connection with Sunday’s attack  in Kaura.

The protesting youths blocked the road and killed one of our sons while two others were killed behind Kafanchan camp of the Kaduna State University,” he said.

Address poverty to end killings

Two security experts, Khamis Ismail and Michael John said there is no problem that has no solution.

According to Ismail, “the crises in southern Kaduna dates back to the 80s and honestly they are all about resource control and inclusion.

“Hundreds of people have been killed over the decades and the truth is that nobody has been held responsible. People from across the divide with each other with impunity because they know nothing will happen.”

He said the way forward is for the government to punish offenders.

“And beyond that basic privileges of existence should be provided for them. The Kaduna State government should look at how it can empower the people economically.

“It should empower the traditional institutions and give them a sense of belonging so that they can call their people to other.

“It appears there is a wide gap between the government and the governed not only in Kaduna but everywhere in Nigeria,” he said.

On his part, John said the Fulani, the Atyap and other tribes in southern Kaduna and beyond cannot dislodge one another.

“All the parties in the crises have been there for hundreds of years so who will leave the place for others?” he asked.

DAILY TRUST

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Police anticipate attacks, beef up security around schools, hospitals, others

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The police authorities have taken measures to beef security nationwide in anticipation of fresh attacks by terrorists and other criminal elements.

The Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, on Sunday ordered watertight security around critical facilities especially schools and hospitals as part of efforts to prevent attacks.
The IGP’s directive was announced in a statement issued on Sunday by Olumuyiwa Adejobi, spokesman of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).
According to the statement, schools, hospitals would be among places prioritised.
Adejobi added that regular raids and patrols would also be carried out in strategic areas across the country.
The statement read, “The Inspector-General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba, psc(+), NPM, fdc, has ordered the deployment of watertight security arrangements to cover all schools, hospitals, health workers, and critical national infrastructure around the country.
“The IGP has equally ordered regular patrols, stop and search, raids, and show of force by tactical commanders to clamp down on pockets of crime and criminality recorded in some states of the federation.
“The IGP gave the directive while reviewing the general security situation of the nation via reports from commands and formations across the country. The IGP has however tasked strategic police managers at various levels to prioritise the use of intelligence gathering networks, particularly traditional/local intelligence to locate criminal hideouts and flush them out before they strike.
“He has equally charged all officers and men to be on the offensive, and take the fight against crime to the doorposts of suspected criminal elements, including bushes and uncompleted buildings, profile them, and charge those found wanting to courts accordingly.”
The IGP also urged Nigerians to cooperate with the NPF in the light of the new directive, “as many police operatives will be seen at strategic areas, routes and communities”.

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Osun-Osogbo festival: Despite proven contamination, devotees drink from Osun river

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In June 2022, TheCable published an investigation which revealed how mining activities in Ilesa communities in Osun state have polluted the water body at the popular Osun-Osogbo grove.

Ilesa, also known as Ijesha land, is renowned for large gold deposits and other minerals. Owing to the heightened mining activity, waste, heavy metals, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and chemicals are washed into the tributaries which end up in the Osun river.

On Friday, which marks the grand finale of the annual Osun-Osogbo festival, devotees of the Osun deity were spotted at the grove drinking from the contaminated river.

Many devotees who trooped out in their white attires and beads were seen fetching the water into different kegs while some washed their heads with it and others drank from it.

TheCable had earlier subjected a sample of the water to a test conducted by UNILAG Consult. It was found to contain 0.034 milligrams per litre (mg/L) of arsenic, 5.663 mg/L of aluminium, and 0.090 mg/L of lead. Other heavy metals found, according to the test result, include Barium (2.326), Lithium(0.004), Nickel(2.006), and Iron (3.197).

These heavy metals were found to be significantly above the limit prescribed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

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Urban Alert, a civic-tech initiative leveraging technology to amplify the yearnings of the masses, told TheCable in June that a health crisis is inevitable if the over two million people living in more than 20 communities in Osun state continue to get exposed to the contaminated water.

“In fact, our data has shown that 100,000 people may be facing serious medical challenges before 2032 if the situation is not arrested and the proper remediation process does not begin,” Anthony Adejuwon, Urban Alert team lead, had said.

Following TheCable’s investigation into the pollution of the river, Abdullahi Binuyo, deputy chief of staff to Gboyega Oyetola, governor of Osun, said the state will carry out a clean-up of the sacred grove.

Binuyo said this while speaking on TheCable’s Twitter Space dedicated to the issue of illegal mining and pollution in the state.

LAST-MINUTE SENSITISATION

On the eve of the finale of the Osun-Osogbo festival, the state government advised tourists, devotees and visitors not to drink water from the river.

Rafiu Isamotu, the commissioner for health, said the water had been contaminated by the activities of artisanal miners and was not good for human consumption.

But Urban Alert criticised the state government for issuing the warning 24 hours before the grand finale.

Oluwatosin Olarewaju, communication officer of Urban Alert, said the response to the contamination of the river has been lukewarm and lacks the determination needed to address the issue of illegal and unregulated gold mining in the state.

“Despite vigorous engagements with the Federal Government, the Osun State Government and other stakeholders, nothing significant has been seen to have been done to avert the impact of the contamination, ” the statement reads in part.

“Having informed the Osun State Government and all appropriate organs of the Federal Government of the deleterious effect of the Osun River contamination, no serious step has been taken for the safety of the affected communities and the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove which sits on the bank of the Osun River. It is, therefore, shocking to see the Osun State Government issuing an impromptu warning to tourists and traditionalists, warning them from drinking from the Osun River on the eve of the Osun Osogbo festival.”

Urban Alert said the response to the issue “is a clear indication that the safety of the people and access to safe water is not a priority”.

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41 dead as fire engulfs church in Egypt

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At least 41 people have been confirmed dead in a fire outbreak at Abu Sefein church in the working-class neighbourhood of Imbaba in Giza Governorate, Egypt.

According to a report by Bloomberg, another 14 people were injured in the fire incident that started at the Coptic church during Sunday morning service.

The report added that fifteen firefighting vehicles were dispatched to the scene to put out the flames while ambulances ferried the casualties to nearby hospitals.

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A police statement confirmed that the fire was ignited by an electrical short-circuit.

Reacting to the incident in a tweet on his verified Twitter handle, Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, Egypt’s president, expressed his condolences to the victims’ families.

He said government has put in place necessary measures to mitigate the effect of the fire outbreak.

“I am closely following the developments of the tragic accident in Al-Munira Church in Giza Governorate, and I have directed all concerned state agencies and institutions to take all necessary measures, and immediately deal with this accident and its effects, and to provide all aspects of health care for the injured,” the president wrote.

“I offer my sincere condolences to the families of the innocent victims who moved to the side of their Lord in one of the houses in which they are worshipped.”

The Cable
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