The tragic events of the past week in Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State (about 50 kilometres from the state capital, Kaduna) have once again thrown up the grim security situation in Southern Kaduna as a national shame and embarrassement. According to reports in several media outlets, the fragile peace in the area was ruptured when a group of Fulani youths, apparently aggrieved at the killing of one of their kinsmen by youths from Kadara and Gwari communities, stormed a village at Ugwan Uka to, as it were, exact their pound of flesh. In the process, five people were reported killed. The attack by Fulani youths was clearly only the beginning of a killing spree as Kadara and Gwari youths, apparently incensed by the brazenness of the Fulani youths who had carried out their attack despite the intervention of the Chief of Kajuru, set upon Fulani communities in a series of retaliatory attacks. Overall, at least 37 people were reported killed and countless others injured in this latest round of killings and reprisals.
It is unfortunate that this has been the gory rhythm of everyday life in Southern Kaduna over the past several years, particularly since the outbreak of violence in the immediate aftermath of the 2011 presidential election. Over this period, hundreds of people have been killed while property worth hundreds of millions of naira have been destroyed. In the meantime, many of those rendered homeless by the all-consuming violence have been reduced to a life of bare existence in a camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
Against this backdrop, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo’s promise to send troops to the region, pursue justice for the victims and ensure security of life and property for all Nigerians no matter where they live, is most welcome. Promised the Acting President: “We will not relent and won’t be deterred in our pursuit of securing the lives and property of all Nigerians, everywhere and in every part of this nation. In the end, we will not only secure the peace all around, but we shall enforce justice for the victims and all of those that are affected.”
These are fitting words from the Acting President, but with all due respect, it begs the question of what became of the military unit deployed there last year after a similar outbreak of violence. Were they moved or demobilised? If they were in situ, why did they not swing into action to avert the latest outbreak of violence?
Observers of the situation in the area have also raised pertinent questions on official handling of the situation, which the Kaduna state government must answer.
The ongoing crisis triggered by the continued closure of tertiary institutions in Southern Kaduna is a case in point. In response to the state government’s official explanation that the closure since December 2016 of the College of Education, Gidan Waya; the Kafanchan Campus of the Kaduna State University (KASU) and the School of Nursing, Kafanchan were for security reasons, the Southern Kaduna Youths and Students Forum (SKYSFOM), asked: “Assuming that the excuse of insecurity is valid, then how come all other schools – private and public, state institutions, state agencies, markets and so many other institutions and facilities have been open all this while? Doesn’t the continued closure of the three tertiary institutions indict the government that it has been unable to secure its citizens?”
Whether or not one accepts these youths position regarding the state government’s agenda, these are perfectly legitimate questions, and it is incumbent on the governor to show that the student’s distrust is baseless.
All in all, it is extremely important that the state goverment shows greater sensitivity to the plight of the hapless citizens of Southern Kaduna. The carnage in that part of the state has gone on for far too long. With sincerity and commitment, the government can ensure that what the nation has just witnessed is the last of such killings. Enough is enough.