The Nigerian army and the Kaduna Police Command have confirmed the killing of 66 people in communities in Kajuru local government area of Kaduna state.
General officer commanding (GOC) 1 division of the army, Faruk Yahaya, and Ahmad Abdulrahman, the state police commissioner, confirmed the killings on Saturday when they accompanied Gov. Nasir el-Rufai, on a tour of some of the affected villages.
Responding to the governor’s question on the casualty figure, the GOC said 66 people were killed.
“As far as we are concerned, what we reported was 66, comprising male, female and children.
“We have shown you the other area in that village, where according to information, the residents were lured to that riverine and were slaughtered.
“A total of 37 were said to have been buried there. You have seen the grave there and you have also seen elements of their materials that were on the ground, including some traces of blood.
“Now information has it that it also spread to other villages. You know how the Fulanis are, they are far apart. That’s the information we have.”
The state police commissioner, Ahmad Abdulrahman, said six people have been arrested and were being questioned on the role they may have played in the massacre.
According to him, those arrested would be charged to court on Monday, February 18 while detectives have been dispatched to track and arrest other suspects.
“Even today, we effected some arrest. They are right now undergoing interrogation at the state CID. When I get back, we are going to reveal what they have gotten so far,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Southern Kaduna People’s Union, SOKAPU, the indigenous community of the area, Adara Development Association and the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, have insisted that nothing of such as is being claimed happened in the area.
In their separate reactions, they said El-Rufai was lying accusing him of trying to instigate a crisis in the area.
SOKAPU called on the Inspector General of Police and Department of State Services, DSS, to investigate the killings, insisting that El-Rufai’s claim that 66 persons were killed was false.
Its spokesman, Yakubu Kuzamani, said in a statement; “SOKAPU is shocked at the deliberate falsehood by El-Rufai who found it convenient not to inform the world of an earlier attack that claimed the lives of 11 Adara natives.
“SOKAPU is convinced that el-Rufai is on an irrevocable journey of inflaming ethnic conflagration that has always been in line with his deliberate chronicle of profiling Southern Kaduna people as favourably disposed to violence.
“We are startled that it was the governor and not the police that announced the alleged killings in Kajuru. Let Nigerians and the world know that should there be any breakdown of law and order in Kaduna State, Governor El-Rufai should be held responsible.
“SOKAPU has reached out to the various community leaders in Kajuru, including officials of the Adara Nation, to ascertain what actually happened. On Sunday, February 10, 2019, the Adara natives residing in Ungwar Barde in Kufana District of Kajuru Local Government Area came under attack by gunmen suspected to be herdsmen.
“The attack lasted from 10 pm of Sunday to 4 am of Monday February 11, 2019. By the time the merchants of death and destruction were through with their mission, no fewer than 11 lives, including a pregnant woman, were lost. Scores of victims of the attack on Ungwar Barde sustained injuries, with some of them presently receiving treatment at some health facilities in the state capital.
“We have been informed that the attackers, seven of them, were arrested by a team of policemen. Sadly, not a statement was issued by El-Rufai over that gruesome attack on Ungwar Barde.”
State chairman of CAN, Rev. John Joseph Hayab said the government should be held responsible in case of any crisis in the state.
“The incidence of raising false alarm by the Kaduna State Government should make Nigerians realise that some of our leaders are also guilty of hate speech themselves and that makes them major actors in the game that have denied us peace and have claimed the lives of our love ones.
“We call on the general public to treat with disregard the press statement from the office of the Kaduna State Governor and to note that should Kaduna State experience any breach of security before, during and after the general elections we shall hold the Kaduna State Government responsible.”
“We call on our media to grow above the temptations that water down our trust in them, the media houses must not allow themselves to be bought over but be objective and honest in their reportage,” the CAN chairman said.
In their own reaction, the indigenous community of the troubled area, Adara Development Association, ADA, said it was faced with deliberate lies allegedly being manufactured by El-Rufai.
A statement signed by the National Assistant Secretary of the association, Luke Godwin Waziri said: “In view of the unfortunate incidents that we are faced with in Adara land and the deliberate lies being manufactured against us as a people by the governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir El- Rufai , we deem it necessary to state the facts and correct the official and deliberate lies.
“It has also become necessary to highlight the high handedness and mischievous manner that the governor of Kaduna State has been deploying against us as a people. Not satisfied with a deliberate attempt to balkanise our traditional institution and culture, the governor is currently trying to instigate a crisis in our area.
“On Friday, 15th of February, 2019, on the eve of what would have been our national elections, we watched with shock the governor granting an interview that 66 people were allegedly killed in Kajuru, Kaduna State. The governor went ahead to list the number of villages that were attacked but deliberately excluded Ungwar Barde where our people were killed. He also gave the gender statistics of those allegedly killed and the tribe of the victims but again mischievously left out the 11 Adara people who were killed.
“He insinuated that the incident happened on the eve of the election. But the truth is that the incident took place between Sunday, 10th February, to Tuesday, 12th February 2019 in Ungwar Barde in Kufana District, where 11 innocent Adara people were earlier killed without any provocation.
READ ALSO: BREAKING: Unknown Gunmen Kill 66 in Kaduna
“The district head of Kufana wrote an official report to the police about the incident. The member representing Kajuru in the Kaduna State House of Assembly also informed the government about the incident. Even the chairman of the local government, Cafra Caino, was also aware of the incident. But, to our greatest surprise, the chairman did not take steps to set the records straight when lies were being spread against the people he leads.
“After the incidents, the communities that were affected even came together and started the process of reconciliation amongst themselves. Through all these, nothing was heard from the government, nothing was said by the government and nothing was done. None of the affected communities was even visited by him.
“We were shell shocked when on Friday the governor issued a statement about killings days after the dust had settled and the people themselves were working to understand the incident in order to find measures to address it.
“To further complicate matters, media houses kept reporting it as ‘Breaking News’. It is really incredulous that the eve of the election was the most appropriate time the governor found to disclose the attacks, give the ‘specific number’ of those allegedly killed, the ethnic group they belong and the names of the villages affected. There could never have been a clearer attempt by the governor to instigate crisis than this malicious, insensitive and incendiary strategy.
“The governor did not stop there. He went up on different TV houses and newspapers on the issue as one heralding news – still giving a one-sided version and intermittently spicing it with the word ‘reprisal’ at a time when he ought to have been putting finishing touches to his candidacy for elections that would have held in hours. It is not hard to see what such theatrics was intended to achieve.
“This completely lends credence to everyone’s belief that the governor is seriously working toward instigating a crisis in our land and Kaduna State for his own deadly benefit. But we in Adara land have resolutely decided that no amount of blatant provocation would make us to lose our calm. Our peaceful disposition is legendary and we will continue with that.
“Faced with mounting pressure to prove his allegations of ‘66 killed’, the governor hurriedly visited some few places but ensured that the District head of Kufana, Mr Dauda Titus and the National President of the Adara Development Association, Mr Dio Maisamari, were quickly arrested and locked up for the duration that he visited. The reasons are just too obvious! The District Head was released only when the governor had concluded his visit while Mr Dio is still being held by the Police.
“We invite the world’s attention to the serious and indiscriminate arrest of our people and chiefs. Many of them have been arrested for just no reason and without due process. We call for their immediate release and demand that Governor Nasir El-Rufai desists from making life difficult for our people with his arbitrary, divisive and incendiary use of power.
“We want to place on record before the whole world that El- Rufai is working assiduously to instigate a crisis in Kaduna for his own political gain, and that should crisis break out, local and international observers should know who to hold responsible.”
However, Governor El-Rufai, is standing firm on his position that 66 persons were killed in Kajuru Local Government. While visiting the scenes of the alleged killings on Saturday, he warned against politicising the tragedy saying those minimising the casualty figures were bigots.
According to his spokesman Samuel Aruwan, El-Rufai noted that there had been concerted and coordinated efforts by “bigoted busy bodies” to deny or minimise the casualty figures.
“Only irresponsible and insensitive people can recklessly dismiss the deaths of members of a community with whom they have no contact. Private individuals and unelected actors cannot be allowed to reduce weighty matters of state security to the province of their limited networks, inexperienced lenses and narrow agendas,” he quoted the governor as saying.