PRESS CONFERENCE BY SOUTHERN KADUNA LAWYERS FORUM, HELD AT BBS DIAMOND SUITES ON THE 9TH OF DECEMBER, 2016 ON THE CONTINUED ATTACKS AND DESTRUCTION OF LIVES AND PROPERTIES AND THE FAILURE OF THE STATE AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO SECURE THE LIVES AND PROPERTIES OF THE PEOPLE OF SOUTHERN KADUNA.
Gentlemen of the Press, you are all welcome to this World Press Conference organized by the Southern Kaduna Lawyers Forum.
We are a Forum of Lawyers of Southern Kaduna extraction with membership strength of over 150 concerned with the protection and enforcement of the rights of the autochthonous people of Southern Kaduna both collectively and individually.
This World Press Conference is predicated on the recent happenings in Southern Kaduna affecting the Fundamental Human Rights of the People, especially the attacks, killings and destruction of property of the people that are under the umbrella of the Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU). Recently, Ninte, Akwa, Ungwar Anjo, Gada Biyu, Godogodo, Gidan-Waya and Pasakori communities of Jema’a LGA, and Chawai community of Kauru LGA have been under severe attacks by Fulani militia. Over 200 lives have been lost and homes and property worth millions of Naira have also been destroyed in the most gruesome manner imagined under the watch of the administration lead by Governor Nasir Ahmad El Rufa’i.
In a recent interview the Governor of Kaduna State granted to members of the Press, he is quoted to have said as follow:-
“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 starts 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. Some of them were from Niger, Cameroon, Chad, Mali and Senegal. Fulanis are in 14 African countries and they traverse this country with the cattle. So many of these people were killed, cattle lost and they organized themselves and came back to revenge.
“So a lot of what was happening in Southern Kaduna was actually from outside Nigeria. We got a hint that the late Governor Patrick Yakowa got this information and he sent someone to go round some of these Fulani communities, but of course after he died, the whole thing stopped. That is what we inherited. But the Agwai committee established that.
“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 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. As recently as two weeks ago, the team went to Niger republic to attend one Fulani gathering that they do every year with a message from me.”
Much as we are ready to co-operate with the Governor and the State Government to ensure that Southern Kaduna and indeed the entire Kaduna State enjoys lasting, sustainable and enduring peace, the utterances of the Governor as captured above expose his failure and unwillingness to bring lasting peace in Southern Kaduna as constitutionally required of him. And these raise a lot of concerns to us.
Why would the Governor spend so much unbudgeted funds from our common wealth to “compensate” the foreign attackers, killers and terrorists without extending the same gesture to the victims of the attacks? It is on statistical record that from 29th of May, 2015 when the present Administration took over about 200 autochthonous people of Southern Kaduna have lost their lives; about 28,000 are internally displaced; about 330 have lost their homes and property and their children are wandering without attending schools; and about 320 have been severely wounded and left to their fate with no any tangible assistance by the State Government and yet the Government is spending undisclosed huge amounts in compensating the foreign terrorists, this we find quite unacceptable.
The payment of “compensation” to foreign killers in Niger, Cameroon, Chad, Mali and Senegal is purely an international and transnational issue that is clearly outside the constitutional powers of the Governor of Kaduna State. We wonder, where the Governor of Kaduna State derived the powers to negotiate or deal with foreign criminals and terrorists? How much is being given to these foreign criminals and terrorists? Are the funds spent on “compensating” these foreign criminals and terrorists appropriated in the State Appropriation Law? We view the payment of compensation to these foreign criminals and terrorists in Niger, Cameroon, Chad, Mali and Senegal as not only to offshore money laundering, but also aiding, abetting and financing acts of international terrorism by the State Governor contrary to antiterrorism legislations of Nigeria.
The exposition of the Governor has further exposed the high-level clandestine conspiracy to exterminate the autochthonous people of Southern Kaduna through genocidal ethnic cleansing. The smooth and unhindered passage through our international borders of these foreign criminals and terrorists from Niger, Cameroon, Chad, Mali and Senegal into Nigeria with the sole purpose of attacking and killing our people undetected by the Government & Security Agencies to us is an admission and serious self-indictment on the part of the Government of its failure to secure the lives and property of the autochthonous people of Southern Kaduna If transnational criminals and terrorists from Niger, Cameroon, Chad, Mali and Senegal could have easy and unhindered right of ingress into and egress out of Nigeria with the sole aim of unleashing terror on our people, then it is evident that there is total failure on the part of the State and Federal Government to guarantee the security of the lives and property of our people.
The utterances and action of the Governor of Kaduna State do not only amount to gross violation of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution and other extant laws, especially the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, No. 11 of 2011 and the Terrorism ((Prevention) Act, No. 10 of 2011.
The Government of Kaduna State claims to be spending over N200 Million every month on security alone, how much of that amount is appropriated and spent in Southern Kaduna on security? How much of that amount is appropriated for the resettlement and rehabilitation of the victims of the attacks?
When it is clear to the autochthonous people of Southern Kaduna that the Kaduna State government has failed in its basic and primary duty of providing security to their lives and property as constitutional mandated, they collectively resolved to defend themselves against these incessant and senseless attacks, carnages and destructions. Instead of the Governor reassuring our people of his government’s determination to ensure security in their communities, he vociferously threatened them with arrest and prosecution positing that any call for self-defence is a hate speech. It is unfortunate that due to reasons known only to the Governor he has closed his eyes to the fact that the right to self-defence is a fundamental and basic human right guaranteed under section 33(2)(a) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution. It is the failure on the part of the Government to provide security to the people that necessitated the call for self-defence. A dead man cannot defend himself!
Therefore, we shall encourage our people to defend themselves within the permissible purview of the Constitution. And we, as Southern Kaduna Lawyers, shall employ all legal means available to us to challenge every threat or breach of the fundamental right of the people to themselves.
The autochthonous people of Southern Kaduna have been targeted and subjected to unconstitutional, repressive, tyrannical and intolerable treatment by the present Government. Their basic and fundamental rights have been violated one way or the other. Recently, some of our people have been arrested, detained and prosecuted in blatant breach and violation of their fundamental right to freedom of expression and other rights as guaranteed by the Constitution, for instance.
Dr John Danfulani, a former lecturer with the Kaduna State University, was first arrested over a trump up charge of “inciting hatred between classes and publication of false news with intent to cause offence against the public peace against a class of people in Northern Nigeria” allegedly contained in the social media. He was detained for six (6) days and arraigned before a Chief Magistrate’s Court. The matter was later struck out on the grounds that the law under which he was arraigned was non-existent and therefore inapplicable in Kaduna State; and consequently he was discharged. On the orders of the Governor, he was re-arrested, arraigned before the High Court, Kaduna again and detained for twelve (12) days over the same facts, incidence and alleged offences that were thrown out in the Chief Magistrate’s Court.
Similarly, Comrade Nasiru Jagaba, a former employee of the Kaduna State Government in the Due Process Office, and the President of SOKAPU National Youth Co-ordinator, was also arrested, detained and arraigned before a Chief Magistrate’s Court on the orders of the Governor over a phoney social media allegation that he allegedly threatened that blood would flow if the Governor destroyed Gbagyi Villa, a suburb in Kaduna Metropolis that is predominantly occupied by the people of Southern Kaduna.
The social media is bedeviled with “worst hate speeches” against the autochthonous people of Southern Kaduna, but we are yet to see the Governor order for the arrest and prosecution of any persons.
The District Head of Goska and a Village Head in Kaninkong Chiefdom of Jema’a LGA were arrested and detained for over a month on a phantom allegation of terrorism. Three (3) people were randomly arrested in Tachira-Attakar in Takad Chiefdom of Kaura LGA and detained for three (3) weeks over a baseless allegation of the death of a Fulani man in Kaura LGA. A lot of our people have been arrested and are still under detention on baseless allegations. The penchant of the present Government to arrest and detain our people based on unfounded and ridiculous allegations is worrisome and totally unacceptable.
We can no longer watch our people who are the victims of genocidal attacks and ethnic cleansing being arrested and labeled as the terrorists and attackers and have their constitutional rights to freedom and other rights violated on the orders of the Governor. Henceforth, we shall employ all available legal means to protect and enforce the basic and fundamental rights of our people who are unjustly arrested by the Government Security Agents under his administration.
In conclusion, the Governor has sworn to uphold the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and to govern all the people of the State equally without discrimination and in accordance with the same Constitution. Therefore, we shall henceforth and always ensure that he is held accountable for this solemn oath of office.
Based on the foregoing, we hereby make the following demands:
- We call on the Governor of Kaduna State to as a matter of urgency elicit the support of the Federal Government and International Security Agencies in identifying, arresting and prosecuting these international terrorists who are engaged in inter-border criminal activities against our people and to properly police our borders to ensure terrorist do not have free access to our Nigerian Territory and to provide adequate security in the area.
- It is now common knowledge that most communities which have been destroyed by these terrorists, have force our people to abandon their ancestral homes, and the communities are now being occupied by these Fulani Terrorist, such Fulani found occupying those abandoned communities be identified, arrested, investigated and prosecuted.
- That the Government should as a matter of urgency, rebuild those communities and restore our people back to their communities instead of rebuilding places of worship in communities already abandoned.
- Rehabilitate all our people displaced by this pogrom and compensate them for all properties lost and supply immediate relief materials to the displaced people.
- The immediate and unconditional release of our people that have been arrested and detained on the orders of the Governor based on phantom, phoney, trump up and ridiculous allegations that are in flagrant violation of their fundamental and basic rights guaranteed under the Constitution.
ON BEHALF OF SOUTHERN KADUNA LAWYERS FORUM