This is the second and concluding part of the report on the Southern Kaduna clashes that have claimed hundreds of lives. The first part was published yesterday.
By Augustine Agbo
Media unfair to Fulani Herdsmen – Miyetti Allah
Members of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, Kaduna State have lamented the negative coverage of the activities of the herdsmen in Southern Kaduna since the crisis began.
The state chairman, MACBAN, Haruna Usman, regretted the negative publicity given to herdsmen, noting that the media had termed the Fulani as aggressors in the conflict and not given them the opportunity state their case.
“I recently granted a national newspaper an interview on the crisis in Southern Kaduna but the newspaper reporter chose to quote me out of context. The publication gave me and my association a very negative publicity”, he said.
He spoke to our reporter only after persistent persuasion and blamed the crisis in Southern Kaduna on lack patience on the path of the farmers who are quick to react to herder’s animals entering their farmlands.
“If a herdsman enters a land, the farmer should report to their leaders and compensation will be paid. We want grazing reserves that will solve the protracted crisis in Southern Kaduna,” he said.
He said that his association does not support the killing of people, adding that anyone carrying gun is a criminal.
The national secretary of the association, Ibrahim Abdullahi also echoed Usman’s worries that it is only the reprisal attack by the Fulanis that are always reported in the media.
He said MACBAN has been doing its best to bring about peace and reconciliation in Southern Kaduna.
He, however, urged the Nigerian government to adopt the Gambian approach to addressing the crisis.
According to him, before entering the Gambia, home countries of the pastoralists must write the host nation stating their number,
state the route through which they come into the country and write an undertaking that they are not coming with sophisticated weapons.
Also, at the border, the government will mount check points comprising of security agencies with officials from the ministry of health and agriculture to ensure that the animals and people are vaccinated.
He advised that Nigeria should discourage the idea of herdsmen moving from point to point in search of greener pasture for their cattle, adding that creating grazing reserves is the best solution to the crisis since there are several forests unutilised in the country.
New CP Kaduna Command just taking charge
Our reporter could not speak to the new Kaduna State Commissioner of Police, Agyole Abeh, as command’s spokesperson simply said his boss would address the press on the Southern Kaduna issue.
When he did address the press, Abeh assured that crime will be brought to its minimum.
Reacting to complaints by residents that the police and other security agencies refused to accompany them to recover the dead bodies of their relatives, the commissioner blamed the people, insisting that if they reported to the police, his men will follow them to claim their corpses.
“Kaduna State is not a small place but we will do everything possible to ensure our response to distress which we are doing”, he stated.
He declined to make comments on other issues raised by our reporter concerning the crisis in Southern Kaduna. An aide of his said that Abeh had just resumed office and had not been properly briefed on the crisis.
Rumour mill, lack of funds compounding crisis
While the crisis continues to claim lives in the area, the negative impact of unprocessed information is compounding the already bad situation in Southern Kaduna.
Findings by the icirnigeria.org indicate that youths in Southern Kaduna are hasty in reacting to any news that filters into their community, without seeking for confirmation and often take laws into their hands by reacting violently to mostly innocent Hausa/Fulani groups in their community.
After such attacks, information also gets to the Fulani communities outside the state, with often overblown casualty figures, prompting reprisal attacks.
This website discovered that traditional leaders in the affected areas have been unable to intervene because many of them are mired in financial crisis asas they are being owed about 12 months salaries.
Some could hardly move with their vehicle to attend reconciliation meetings in the area. Several peace meetings are often shunned by many of the paramount rulers due to lack of funds.
Starvation looms, residents sleep at military base
As the gunmen hold grip of many of the farmlands in Southern Kaduna, not a few residents are on the verge of starving to death as food is getting increasingly scarce.
In all the communities visited, there is an eminent humanitarian crisis brewing as lack of food is taking a toll on the living condition of the people.
Mary Yakubu, 35, a resident of Fadan Karshi in Sanga council area and a mother of three said that her family had resorted to begging for food to survive.
“Our food stock has run out and I cannot go to the farm to get more food because I may be shot. The risk is high down there”, she said.
Some families have resorted to traveling to safer areas in Plateau State to work in the farms in exchange for food.
Most of the local markets are shut down due to fear of reprisal attacks. On November 29, goods worth millions of naira were destroyed in the weekly Samaru Kataf market in Zango Kataf when some indigenous tribal youths invaded the place killing scores of people.
Daanladi Rabiu, 35, a trader who lost cloths worth about N35m to the crisis told our reporter that he was just a victim of circumstance.
“The vehicle conveying my goods was set ablaze because I am a Hausa man. I have no hand in the Fulani/Farmers crisis”, he cried out
Millions worth of goods were said to have been destroyed on that day as the youths of Samaru Kataf went on rampage in what some of them called a revenge attack for the herdsmen killing of their relations in the interiors.
Several commercial interstate transporters have avoided several routes in Southern Kaduna to avoid been caught in the crisis. It has affected several businesses including filling station, local road side traders and farmers as well.
Even our correspondent had to make a quick exit from Samaru Kataf community to avoid mob attack as some of the youths were becoming uncomfortable with the presence of a journalist in their midst.
In most of the communities visited, the few residents found only sleep at the military bases for safety. During the day, they move to their various homes to do minimal house chores.
As the time of visiting the area, there is no existing camp for the internally displaced in Southern Kaduna, no house destroyed had been fixed and no relief material had been provided to the few people left in the affected communities.
The situation in Southern Kaduna is very fluid with all warring groups still battle ready.
Efforts to get the Kaduna state government to react to the situation in Southern Kaduna were unsuccessful as the spokesman to the governor, Samuel Aruwan, did not pick his calls. Aruna also failed to respond to text messages sent to him on Wednesday.
However, earlier in December when our reporter tried to get the government’s reaction on several issues in Southern Kaduna, Aruwa directed him to speak with Governor el Rufai’ s media consultant, Muyiwa Adekeye, who said that the government does not respond to negative allegations or media enquiries.
Adekeye berated our reporter for seeking to publish a “negative” story on Kaduna State, noting that the government was doing a lot of positive things worth reporting.
“We don’t respond to such negative enquiries,” he told the website when asked to respond to goings on in Southern Kaduna.