Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai has absolved Nigerian Fulani cattle herders of culpability in the recurring massacre in the southern part of the state, stating rather that the banditry against the southern people of his state are committed by herdsmen from Niger, Cameroon, Chad, Mali and Senegal.
Speaking to select media men in the state capital, the governor disclosed that “For southern Kaduna, we didn’t understand what was going on and we decided to set up a committee under Gen. Martin Luther Agwai (rtd) to find out what was going on there. What was established was that the root of the problem has a history starting from the 2011 post-election violence.
“Fulani herdsmen from across Africa bring their cattle down towards Middle-belt and Southern Nigeria. The moment the rains start around March, April, they start moving them up to go back to their various communities and countries. Unfortunately, it was when they were moving up with their cattle across Southern Kaduna that the elections of 2011 took place and the crisis trapped some of them.”
The governor disclosed that the Southern Kaduna killings was largely carried out by Fulani’s who are not Nigerians but largely come into the country to kill and flee.
“Some of them were from Niger, Cameroon, Chad, Mali and Senegal,” adding that “Many of these people were killed, cattle lost and they organised themselves and came back to revenge. We took certain steps. We got a group of people that were going round trying to trace some of these people, trying to trace some of these people in Cameroon, Niger Republic and so on to tell them that there is a new governor who is Fulani like them and has no problem paying compensations for lives lost and he is begging you to stop the killing.
“In most of the communities, once that appeal was made to them, they said they have forgiven. There are one or two that asked for monetary compensation. They said they have forgiven the death of human beings, but want compensation for cattle. We said no problem, some we paid.”
Southern Kaduna has of recent, been turned into a killing field with scores of people feared killed in attacks reportedly carried out by suspected Fulani herdsmen. In one of such attacks in the sleepy Godogodo community, 40 people were reportedly massacred with dozens of houses destroyed during a raid by the suspected Fulani marauders.
The raid has led to a population of displaced people and communities. Governor el-Rufai further revealed that his administration has established contacts with some Fulani herdsmen who were obviously on a retaliation mission having suffered some loses that included death of their kith and kin and cattle during the 2011 post-election violence.
He noted with regret that “some Nigerians are trying to bring religion or ethnicity” into the wanton killings in that part of the state and chided the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN president for some statements credited to him.
“What about Zamfara State? Are there Southern Kaduna people in Zamfara? That is why I considered the statement by the president of Christian Association of Nigeria ( CAN ) as regrettable. Some people don’t understand the burden of leadership. The same Fulanis are killing Fulanis in Zamfara. It is not about religion or ethnicity, this is a pure case of banditry. They are criminals, their ethnicity, their religion does not matter,” the governor said.
The governor equally accused some unnamed politicians of stoking the fire of violence, noting “some people found a way to add fuel to the fire, because it is politically expedient to do so not caring how many people get killed.”
Governor el-Rufai reaffirmed his administration’s resolve to protect lives and properties, and in this direction, disclosed that his government has taken far-reaching measures including deployment of more security forces to all crisis prone areas of the state and the use of drones for surveillance as part of measures to address recurring massacre in the southern part of the state.
“We are deploying more and more security to the crisis prone areas. It is costing us tones of money at a time when we don’t have resources, but we have to do it because security is the foundation of everything,” the governor said.
He assured that the government would not waver in its commitment to arrest and prosecute all those who propagate hate messages which have continued to fan the embers of violence, blood-letting, and destruction of properties.
“There are people that are sending a message, defend yourselves, we will get them. Defend yourself is hate speech. You can’t defend yourself if there is a government. We are going to arrest and prosecute all those that pass that message,” he assured. (Leadership)