Renewed hope for peace in Southern Kaduna
FILE: Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai
THE news coming from Southern Kaduna has been grimmer than usual, including the September 11 killing of two persons in Manyi-Mashin village, Zango-Kataf Local Government Area of the state. Earlier in September, herdsmen armed with knives and machetes had ambushed three Atyap youths and killed one of them instantly.
But there was a glimmer of progress recently as the state governor, Nasir el-Rufai, empanelled a peace committee over the ethno-religious crisis. Inaugurating the committee, the governor declared, “The decision to gather (the) leaders of faith in a joint endeavour for peace and harmony in our state reflects our belief that religion does not have to divide. It is our view that the diversity of faith can be a vehicle for unity when adherents respect the right of every human being to life, liberty and livelihood, as creatures of God.”null
He is right, but building a lasting peace also requires effective security. There is an urgent need for the government and security agents to be neutral in maintaining law and order in the troubled area.
Southern Kaduna has been an ungoverned territory for so long. The crisis in the area between the Hausa-Fulani and the villagers understandably predated the current administration. A report by Human Rights Watch says Northern Kaduna’s population is largely Muslim and Hausa-Fulani, while Southern Kaduna is predominantly Christian and home to some 30 ethnic groups. “Relations between the Hausa-Fulani and communities in Southern Kaduna have long been tense, stemming predominantly from competition over resources, including land, and political control. These tensions have often led to deadly ethnic and sectarian violence,” the HRW adds.https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
Another deeply disturbing aspect of the killings is the perceived bias of government at both the state and federal levels; both are alleged to have taken sides in the crisis. This has worsened the violence and kept trust at bay. The villagers under the aegis of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union once raised the alarm that the Islamic State West Africa Province and Boko Haram terrorists had taken over the area without a measured action response by the state government to protect them. Compounding the strife, kidnapping, banditry and other criminal activities continue to threaten the peace of the area. During his visit to Igabi and Giwa local government areas in the state after a heartrending attack, the governor said, “I came to apologise for failure to protect you fully. We are doing our best to minimise such incidents. You should continue to forgive us.”null
The details of these killings are shocking, but the truth is that such mayhem is an everyday occurrence in Southern Kaduna. And they have revealed leadership helplessness, exposing the failure of state and federal authorities to protect the citizens. In April, gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen invaded the Unguwan Magaji village, Kamaru Chawai Ward of the Kauru LGA, killing four persons and torching 36 houses. The killing in March of over 50 persons in communities in Igabi and Giwa LGAs brought home a cruel reality. About seven people were killed in separate attacks in communities in Kugosi and Kajari, all in the Chikun LGA in March. Suspected Fulani herdsmen allegedly killed 11 persons in Chikun and Jema’a communities in the area a few days later.https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
The Fulani communities in the area have also alleged that 99 of their kinsmen were killed in June. Each day, cases of killings increase thus widening the animosity among residents in Southern Kaduna and in the state as a whole.
There should be a clear sincerity in ending the violence. Ethnic conflict is one of the major threats to peace and security in Nigeria. The violence, more often than not, has its roots in the propensity of the political elite to attain and build political power by exploiting nationalism and its need to create the domestic ‘other’ in order to foster solidarity among the dominant nationality. The first civilian governor of the state, Balarabe Musa, once accused politicians and the elite of exploiting the Southern Kaduna killings to make money and advance their political interests, while the victims wallow in trauma.null
To build lasting peace, the sponsors of the violence should be brought to justice. The government should treat bloodthirsty persons the way the constitution prescribes rather than look the other way when they execute mindless killings.More in Home
The situation in Southern Kaduna is an emergency. Until the government sees it in that mould, crises would continue to erupt in that area. Every group should be carried along in any transparent peace deal and leaders of all the warring groups must be invited to a negotiating table to resolve the festering crisis. It is also vital for security agents to display neutrality in their engagement.
Much needs to be done in adopting intelligence-led policing. According to the United States Department of Justice, intelligence-led policing is “a collaborative law enforcement approach combining problem-solving policing, information sharing, and police accountability, with enhanced intelligence operations.” The police should be able to identify potential victims and potential repeat offenders, and then work in partnership with the community to provide offenders with an opportunity to change their behaviour before being arrested for a more severe crime.
An enduring settlement in Southern Kaduna will almost certainly require greater security presence, which in turn can only come with an overhaul of Nigeria’s security architecture. State governments’ over-reliance on the federal security networks has failed. Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has repeatedly made it clear that the dynamic nature of the current security challenges requires dynamism in tackling them: “Which is why I believe that state police in a large, diverse federation is imperative.” Globally, experience has shown that rural policing reduces the feelings of isolation, contributes to feelings of community and prevents crimes, real or imagined, from threatening the way the countryside is lived. Kaduna State deserves a form of this.