SEPTEMBER 29, 2014
as NHRC begins investigation BY Ikechukwu Nnochiri ABUJA
A coalition of over 60 non-governmental organizations led by the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, yesterday, threatened to drag Governor Mukhtar Ramalan Yero before the International Criminal Court of Justice, ICC, over alleged genocide in Southern Kaduna. This was even as the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, said it has commenced investigation into a petition alleging that the “systemic and premeditated attacks”, are aimed at “decimating and liquidating the Southern Kaduna People in order to take over their ancestral lands and natural resources”. The petition which was lodged by an amalgamation of NGOs based in Southern Kaduna. The group insisted that the state government had failed to take adequate steps to stop the killings, identify the attackers and bring them to book. “It is on record that even in situations where the communities have captured the perpetrators red-handed, while in the act of terrorizing our communities and handed them over the security forces, none has been prosecuted in court to serve as a deterrence”, the petitioners added. According to them, “The main characteristic of the on-going assaults on our communities is that they are carefully planned, organized and executed with heartless viciousness and on an incremental basis. “Between 2011 and 2014, over a period of just four years, 39 such terrorist attacks have been launched against our hospitable, accommodating, peaceful and law abiding communities by terrorists. These planned, systematic and coordinated attacks have claimed the lives of over 4,000 innocent Southern Kaduna people, bona fide citizens of Nigeria. “In most of the affected communities, women and children have been killed and brutally murdered in a most barbaric manner. While in some cases they were hacked to death, in others they were burnt alive and or blown up with explosives. “These attacks have rendered thousands of our people homeless, as their homes have been burnt, their churches destroyed and their food stores, barns and granaries burnt. What is even more, their water sources have also been polluted”, they lamented. Among groups that endorsed the petition included the Southern Kaduna Development Associations Forum, Southern Kaduna Women Lawyers Forum and SOKUPA Youth Wing. Meantime, the Chairman of the Governing Council of the NHRC, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, said the Commission would give the matter the due attention it deserves. Odinkalu noted that the primary duty of every government is to protect lives properties of its citizenry, saying the NHRC would not rest on its oars until the perpetrators of the alleged genocide are fished out and prosecuted. Meanwhile, in a press statement it issued in Abuja yesterday, HURIWA, urged the Kaduna State Governor to quickly implement proactive and fool proof security and community-based measures, “to bring an end to the mass killing of indigenous people of Southern Kaduna by suspected armed Fulani mercenary fighters or be prepared to be dragged to the ICC in The Hague, Netherlands for alleged crimes against humanity and failing to stop genocide with his executive might”. “The bloodbath and needless killings of hapless and innocent villagers of Southern Kaduna State must stop forthwith and all the suspected killers brought to justice”, read the statement signed by the National Coordinator of the coalition, Mr. Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director, Miss. Zainab Yusuf.