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Religious tension rises



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  • 22 villages sacked, taken over by terrorists in Southern Kaduna
  • Sultan, Abdusalami Abubakar, Bishop Kukah intervene

AFTER over 12 major ethno-religious clashes dating back to 1980 in Southern Kaduna, Kaduna State, the situation is flaring out of control now, and many believe a full blown religious war is just some ticks away if nothing drastic happens. This is as a result of the mounting tension in the troubled zone and the high sensitivity of religious invasion of indigenes land and mass destruction of property.

To escalate the crisis, people suspected to be Boko Haram are said to have joined forces with the Fulani herdsmen in killing indigenes of Southern Kaduna, capturing and occupying their lands, a senator has revealed.

Senator representing Kaduna South in the National Assembly, Danjuma La’ah, complained bitterly at the weekend that terrorists struck with impunity despite the 24 hours curfew imposed on Kaura Local Government Area.

“I am making this public to alert the world of a possible re-grouping of Boko Haram Terrorists with Fulani herdsmen terrorists in Southern Kaduna,” he said in a statement.

“They are now conquering large swaths of lands, and have now established a base behind Passakori. This was how Boko Haram started in 2009.”

According to him, the police and some youths in Tsonje community had to to engage the attackers in a 24 hour gun battle between Friday and Saturday since the soldiers drafted there were waiting for order. Two civilians were killed.

The senator subsequently enlightened the indigenes on the sensitivity of the Fulani invasion and agenda to take over their land. The statement, National Daily gathered, emboldened the people to rise for self defence which may culminate into wide bloodshed on both sides.

Accordingly, the locals have begun to organise themselves for informal military actions in readiness for reprisal killings as security operatives have failed to effectively bring the situation under control.

No fewer than 204 were confirmed dead by NEMA in the series of attacks that earlier took place in the area. The attacks were allegedly carried out by only nomadic Fulani herdsmen.

The victims who were from the predominantly Christian south have had their cases taken over by the Kaduna State Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) which are threatening fire and brimstones unless the perpetrators are brought to book.

National Daily gathered that secretary of CAN in the region, Dr Joseph Aka Ajujungwa, who spoke alongside the Chairman of CAN in the South-East, Most. Rev. Prof. David Eberechukwu, in separate press statements, declared that the group was holding El-Rufai responsible for the murder of hundreds of Christians in Kaduna state.

“The worst carnage is presently ongoing in Southern Kaduna and most of the killings are unreported. Killings are alleged by the indigenes and residents of communities in Southern Kaduna to be rampant still despite the recent mobilisation of military and police teams.”

It was also gathered that the killings led to an exchange of words between the Kaduna State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Council of Imams.

Northern political leaders like Abdulsalami, paramount traditional ruler and religious leader from the Caliphate, the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar lll, and other members of the National Peace Council (NPC), led by Abdusalami Abubakar, have waded in the crisis, engaging Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, in a closed-door meeting to discuss issues involved in Southern Kaduna crisis and how to end it.

Others at the meeting included the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Hassan Kukah and Cardinal John Onaiyekan.

Kaduna crisis and peace moves are no strangers to northern leaders. Each of the 12 crises that rocked the state had ended with a panel report no one cared about later.

“No sitting Government in Kaduna State has ever fully implemented the recommendations of any of these panels or commissions,” a source close to the state government said.

“The latest round of crisis in some communities in southern parts of the State is clearly a fall-out of the failure of the previous administrations in the State to decisively tackle security problems when they occurred.”

And it is also possible the stakeholders moving in now will constitute another talk shop.
Of course the Gen Martin Luther Agwai-led enquiry El Rufai commissioned in 2015 traced the current crisis to the 2011 post-election violence in which herdsmen who lost their herd became raiders of communities in the area.

Speaking after closed door meeting with the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, at the weekend, Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Hassan Kukah demanded that the state government do everything within its powers to ensure peace is restored in the troubled areas.

“I think what the people of Kaduna State, including the government should be doing now is to look into how we can achieve peace and development and I think that is the reason we have democracy. What is going on now is a very sad phase in our history, but I believe that we can get over it and we will get over it and come out much stronger and committed to peace,” Kukah said.

Reacting to the killing, former Head of State and leader of the National Peace Committee, Gen. AbdulsalamiAbubakar (retd), said there is no religion on earth or anywhere that preaches violence.

For Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, Both President Buhari and Governor Nasir El-Rufai handling of the crisis is pro-active. “If you ask why Gen. Buhari did not act fast enough when these events took place, which degrade us as human beings, it was perhaps he had been waiting for the governor of that state to send money to the killers first for them to stop the killing,” Soyinka said.

Soyinka said at the launch of a book, Religion and the Making of Nigeria in Abuja at the weekend that he was not astonished by the admission of El-Rufai that he paid out money to foreigners to stop the carnage on Nigerian soil.

“What, however, concerns the rest of us, no matter the internal wrangling, rivalries or controversies within any religion, is that the innocent are often those who pay the highest price. The non-adherents to one line of belief or another,” Soyinka said.

Some other stakeholders have expressed fears that the Kaduna invasion is a plot to Islamise Nigeria.

“From what I see today in Nigeria I am very certain that Muslims would not need to use a violent Jihad to islamize Nigeria. CHRISTIANS themselves will be used by Muslims to islamize Nigeria. Just ask yourself how Muslim nations became Islamic nations? Is there any record of them doing evangelistic work? Did they tell people about how wonderful their prophet Mohammed is,” this stakeholder argued.

Another stakeholder lamented that, A bill to have grazing land all over Nigeria sent by the govt had passed the second reading and there is every possibility that the bill will pass as most southern Christian legislators have been compromised. Get ready for Fulani Muslim communities to be established in our Christian communities,” contending, “Between Christians and Muslims who is likely to change his or her religion.”

A Muslim convert to Christianity has this to say, “If you saw my first letter, you would have known that I used to be a Muslim but now a Christian. I have been in hiding because anyone born a Muslim and converts to Christianity has a death sentence on his head. It is even worse now that they know I have decided to reveal their hidden agenda to the Nigerian Christian who stupidly voted Buhari…

In that letter I told you about the subtle ways President Buhari is going about his islamization agenda. In this part I will explain, with Islamic teachings why our president is making some of his moves without caring about the feelings and sensibilities of Christians in Nigeria.”

“Please take this as God’s revelation. Let all Christians articulate their positions, discard nonchalance, act fast and pray very well before we are caught unawares. Be vigilant and be sober in reflections. The devil’s agenda through Islam is progressing as designed. Christians, please Pray against war in Nigeria. Nigeria is not an Islamic state, yet is a member of coalition of Islamic States against Terrorism. The Chapel at Aso Rock is disturbing our president, courts have legalized islamisation agenda through hijab in educational institutions; Grazing bill for occupation and infiltration agenda, highest spiritual sheikh in saudi brought to Aso Rock by the President; permission before preaching in Kaduna and environment spreading to other states, Especially the South and the Middle Belt. God has exposed the hidden agenda on hijab which they are trying to enforce on schools. If it is accepted, they will carry out their plans in support with Arab countries. Their plan is war. They will be killing all Christian body, most especially, the students. They don’t want their children to be involved. Hijab is their identity to escape from being killed. They have a target time given to them to implement the project. You can observe it from now within your vicinity and environment.

You will see those that have not been using hijab have started using it. Christian be vigilant; Be wise!” a citizen had expressed his fear and sentiments over Islamic agenda in the country.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) reported at the weekend that 204 people have been killed in the crisis, marking the first time a government agency is providing a figure of the attacks since they began last year.

Before the attack on Tsonje, gunmen said by locals to be Fulani herdsmen under similar circumstances of heavy military presence and under a 24-hour curfew launched an attack on Goska village, about 5km from Kafanchan, Jema’a Local Government Area, killing five women and burning several houses. The attackers were said to have targeted homes of local community and youth leaders.

Kaduna State governor, MalamNasir El-Rufai, said some of the masterminds of the attacks and killings have been arrested. Some of the suspects include one SalehSabiu, AuwwalMadaki, Bashir Yusuf and IdrisIliyasu.

Before that, 17 suspects were arrested in cases of arms dealing in different parts of Kaduna State. They include one Nelson Kpok and YakubuDangana. But most of the residents of Southern Kaduna believe that Fulani herdsmen are responsible for the attacks, believing they want to sack them from their villages so they can have access to grazing routes.

One of the community leaders at AnguwanAnjo, Mr. Samuel Auta blamed the attacks on Fulani herdsmen. But he made a distinction between the Fulani resident in the area and those coming from outside. “We are being attacked by those herdsmen that come from outside, not the ones living with us here,” he said.

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