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Insecurity: SOKAPU asks FG to declare bandits, terror Herdsmen as terrorists

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The President of Southern Kaduna Peoples Union, Honorable Jonathan Asake has urged the federal government of Nigeria to declare terror bandits and herdsmen as terrorists.

Asaka made the call during a press conference where he enumerated the carnage masterminded by the killer groups in Southern Kaduna.

He said if  President Buhari led administration can kill Gana of Benue, arrest Nnamdi Kanu in Kenya, kill ESN commander Ikonso and also arrest Igboho in Contonuo, that means they have what it takes to tackle bandits and terror herdsmen

Below is the full statement

Gentlemen of the press, I call you here to update you on the state of insecurity in Kaduna State and the destruction that has been ongoing in Zangon Kataf Local Government Area (LGA) and other LGAs in Southern Kaduna.

There seems to be a recurring vicious circle of violence meted on our communities that always coincides with the commencement of the raining season which has often culminated into massive destruction of lives and property, including displacement of thousands of people.

You may recall that last year when the raining season commenced in May, there were massive onslaughts of genocidal proportion across Southern Kaduna communities, particularly in Chikun, Kajuru, Kachia, Kaura, Kauru, Sanga, Jema’a and Zangon Kataf LGAs. These assaults left in their trail death, destruction and displacements, with a huge humanitarian crisis.

Again, this year, with the commencement of another raining season, the onslaughts have resumed which coincides with the period when our farming communities need to be on their farms. With particular reference are the recent attacks on communities in Zangon Kataf LGA where no fewer than 100 persons have been massacred within seven days, 12 villages completely decimated and over 90 percent of Atyap land deserted by inhabitants over fears of frightening uncertainties.

To us, this is no mere coincidence that these attacks are carried out during the farming season. It is a deliberate and carefully planned and executed agenda aimed at destroying the totality of the livelihoods of our people by destroying farmlands, our homes, property, including closing down of schools and destruction of churches and displacement of our communities, thereby resulting into thousands of our people fleeing to Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camps as refugees in their ancestral lands.

In the case of recent atrocities unleashed on several Zangon Kataf communities, the usual armed Fulani militia left our communities with tales of horror and sorrow as it sneaked into Kibori village in the wee hours of July 8, 2021 where they slaughtered a widow, her three children and grandchild.

On July 11, 2021, the attackers invaded Badawa village in Gora ward where they killed four Amawa natives and razed almost the entire settlement. The family home of the paramount ruler of the Atyap people, HRH Agwatyap Dominic Yahaya, in Magamiya was attacked and scores were killed just as they burned down a Catholic Church in the village. From there, the assailants moved to Matyei where they looted foodstuff and household items before burning down over 150 homes, including another Catholic Church. Seven cars and 15 motorcycles were also burnt down.

The vicious attackers moved to the home town of former ECOMOG field commander, Major General Shekari Billiyock (retired) where they bombed his home in Abuyab village. Also, the Warkan community under Gora ward was attacked in which 10 people were killed as the village was looted and 20 cows rustled and no fewer than 11 homes reduced to rubble.

On July 12, it was the turn of Makarau and Kacecere communities where 10 people were killed and 10 homes burnt. Both the Anglican and ECWA pastoriums were also burnt down. Also, on that same day, Nok’shuyi (Jankasa) was also attacked and several houses completely destroyed.

With no security personnel on sight to stop them, Magata and Magori came under attack as the daredevil armed Fulani militia killed two persons and burnt down the two villages. The attackers would later return to Makarau that was earlier attacked and burnt down the ECWA and Anglican churches and the remaining houses that were not burnt down.

On July 14, 2021, Mayayit (Angwa Jaba) was also attacked where two people were killed and 16 homes burnt down. On the same night, Manyi’ashim was attacked where eight homes were burnt down and several hectares of farmland with crops destroyed.

On July 15, these attackers laid an ambush at a farm in Apiashim and killed a lady who was being taken to safety by a motorcyclist. On July 16, 2021, the attackers went to Kigudu village where they rustled 14 cows and burnt down two houses. On July 18, 2021, the attackers launched another attack on Kibori where they also burnt down 10 houses.

It is pertinent to note that surviving victims of these horrendous attacks have testified that the armed Fulani attackers were seen accompanied by men in army camouflage riding in Hilux vans painted in military colours who teamed up with the Fulani attackers, using sophisticated weapons to bomb some homes, especially that of the paramount ruler and the former ECOMOG field commander.
Villagers had earlier observed that in the evening of the Magamiya and Matyei attacks, all security checkpoints within the vicinity of the troubled areas were seen being dismantled to the surprise of the villagers. More worrisome, there are allegations that these attackers were housed in the Hausa-Fulani settler community of Zangon Kataf Town and it is from there these attackers operate from. We are of the opinion that these claims need to be investigated by the relevant authorities.

It is sadly unbelievable that 10 days after these massacres and displacement in our communities, from all observable indices, there appears to be a conspiracy of silence or a deliberate attempt by the government to downplay the severity of the atrocities and genocides being perpetrated by these attackers across our communities.

This conspiracy against our people may have led to the government’s directive through the National Broadcast Commission (NBC) to bar reportage on terror attacks and activities of bandits and kidnappers by the broadcast media.

Little wonder the enormity of the killings and destruction, with the attendant humanitarian crisis foisted on our people by these attacks, have been downplayed by the government in a bid to hide the ugly realities of ongoing genocidal attacks across our communities.

In the same manner, the severity of kidnappings, extortions and impoverishment of our people in the various communities in Kaduna State is yet to gain the required traction due to action or inaction of the government which suggest some form of complicity.

While the Islamic cleric Sheikh Ahmad Gumi has continued to perambulate between government and these ruthless bandits and kidnappers in the guise of negotiating for peace, but sticks to the position that they are not criminals who do not kill but only collect ransoms from their victims. This unfortunate position was also echoed by Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna state who declared that these bandits are only involved in doing business, without disclosing to Nigerians the identities of those behind the business.

We vehemently disagree with the position of both Sheikh Gumi and Governor el-Rufai. We know that these kidnappers have killed their victims on several occasions. The case of one Dr Ataga’s wife who was kidnapped, alongside her children, was later murdered on February 01, 2020 and her corpse dumped, while a huge ransom was paid before her children were eventually released by these abductors. What a pathetic situation!

The case of the Greenfield University students who were kidnapped on in April, 2021, with five of them later ruthlessly killed while a mind-boggling amount of over N200 million was paid by traumatised parents of the abducted students and the government did nothing about it. Therefore, the claim by anyone that these bandits do not kill is either outright mischief or suggests complicity.

As we are addressing you now, students of Bethel Baptist High School who were kidnapped on July 5, 2021 are still in the den of their captors, three weeks after. It is tragic to note that while the government swung into action to rescue the Emir of Kajuru in less than 24 hours after his abduction, the government has refused to do anything to rescue these students that are still languishing in captivity, among hundreds of others.

We are convinced beyond doubt that the government has a capacity to combat these daredevil bandits that have made life unbearable for our communities. If government could lure the Benue militant, Terwase Akwaza, AKA Gana, out of his hideout in September 2021, and later killed him; if they could trace Mazi Nnamdi Kanu to Kenya and blindfold him to Nigeria in June 2021; if they could trace Sunday Igboho to Cotonou and arrest him just a few days ago; and if they could smoke out the commander of Eastern Security Network (ESN), Ikonso, and later killed him in April 2021, then, it clearly shows that government has enough capacity to deal with the situation.

It is clear from the foregoing that the Nigerian government is only interested in combating activists or perceived criminals who hail from Southern and Middle Belt Region, while pampering terrorists in the North who have killed, maimed, looted, occupied large territories and destroyed more than any known group in the history of Nigeria. While we have seen leaders of these Fulani bandits and kidnappers armed to the teeth and kitted in full military gears and taking photos during negotiations with governors, notable Islamic cleric Sheikh Gumi and high profile government officials, government has refused to bring them to justice.

We find it strange to explain how government is unwilling to tackle banditry and kidnappings in the North, but at the same time hasty in deploying full intelligence and military force against Southern and Middle Belt activists that are engaged in one form of agitation, criminality or otherwise.

Even when these bandits brought down an air force jet last Sunday, July 19th,at the border between Zamafa and Kaduna State, thereby challenging the sovereignty of our country, the government has not shown enough action to tackle the dangers posed by banditry and insurgency that have now acquired anti-aircraft launchers and sophisticated weapons.

The survival, unity and progress of the Nigerian State is more threatened by the untamed atrocities of these Northern bandit groups and armed Fulani herdsmen more than the actions of the Kanus, Igbohos and Terwases of the Southern and Middle Belt Region. We say this arising from the fact that if these so-called bandits have the capacity to bring down a jet fighter, then, it clearly shows that they have acquired enough weaponry to face the Nigerian State.

OUR DEMANDS

1. We call on the military authorities to investigate claims by attacked villagers over alleged involvement of their personnel that may have compromised their neutrality so as to preserve the reputation and confidence Nigerians have in them.

2. Government must set up machinery to bring the perpetrators of these heinous crimes to book, return displaced communities to their homelands, rehabilitate and compensate displaced persons.

3. Government should build IDP camps and direct NEMA, SEMA, among other agencies, to provide relief materials to displaced people.

4. We call on the government to facilitate the formation of Civilian JTF across our communities to forestall incidences of fake security personnel going into our communities to unleash terror attacks on our people.

5. We call on relevant security agencies to carry our out a cordon-and-search operation in the Hausa-Fulani settler community of Zangon Kataf town where these attackers are said to operate from as it was done in Ladduga in 2014 with a view to retrieving deadly weapons in their possessions.

6. It is our considered view that the intractable security situation is due to the unwillingness by Governor el-Rufai to tackle the security challenges headlong. We therefore call on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on Kaduna State.

7. We call on the Federal Government to immediately declare these armed Fulani Herdsmen, Kidnappers, bandits or whatever name they parade they are called as Terrorists.

In conclusion, let me state here for the umpteenth time loud and clear, that whoever comes to our communities, either as individual or group, to kill, maim, rape, destroy and displace our people and take over our homelands, no matter how long it takes, every square inch of our lands will be recovered by our generation or future generations.

Sign:

HON JONATHAN ASAKE

President

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