On the 19th of December 2016, youths came out in their numbers in Kafanchan, Kaduna State to protest the incessant and unabated killings carried out in their communities by faceless Fulani herdsmen. Their peaceful protest was however disrupted when another group attacked their protest. This lead to several injuries and the destruction of several properties including a church and mosque. The local authorities thereafter inposed a 24-hour curfew on Jema’a and Kaura Local Government Areas both in the Southern Kaduna area.
The following day, in defiance of the curfew, women and youths came out to protest the mishandling of the crisis by the government. This was as the governor, Nasir Elrufai, was in Jema’a LG chairing a security meeting and assessing the damage. The protesters made it clear they were not pleased with his handling of the killings by barricading his convoy and pelting it with stones. His security personnel had to clear the way by firing tear gas into the air.
The killings in Southern Kaduna is an act of terrorism against the inhabitants of the community who are mostly farmers. They are continually attacked by Fulani herdsmen who destroy their farmland by ploughing their cows through them and slaughtering the members of the community.
The Fulani herdsmen are so infamous for their violence that they have been declared the fourth most dangerous terrorist group in the world by the Global Terrorism Index. They are at par with the terrorist Boko Haram sect. This unjustifiable violence has moved Nigeria up the ranks to become the third most terrorised country in the world.
Churches and other organisations have constantly called the government’s attention to this terror unleashed by the Fulani herdsmen but it seems the government is not listening. Lately, the Catholic Diocese of Kafanchan published a press release calling for a solution to this crisis. It said that the killings are a “well-funded jihad” against the people of Southern Kaduna. It accused the government of partisanship and bias and accused the army of standing by when the herdsmen attack but quick to assist other Fulani communities when they face cattle rustling by cattle thieves. It revealed that a total of 808 people have lost their lives to these herdsmen in recent times and 1,422 houses, 16 churches and a primary school have been burnt down.
Elrufai has done less than enough to address this escalating situation. If anything, his efforts can be said to be lukewarm, even indifferent. To put up an “apology billboard” with the aim of engaging “state and non-state actors” by bringing everyone together to be able to say “we are sorry” makes no sense and is a slap on the face of the hundreds that have been massacred by these bandits.
Elrufai further went down the part of ridiculousness by announcing the payment of money to these killers to stop them from killing. That a governor will pay killers, who he has admitted are foreigners, to stop massacring the people he swore to protect is deeply troubling and frankly inane. He invoked the bonds of tribalism and factionalism by saying he did it because he is “Fulani like them” and has no problem paying “compensations” for lives lost and he is “begging them” to stop killing.
A lot of questions arise from this. Why should a governor be paying compensation to foreigners who kill his constituents and not the constituents who themselves need it the most? Why should the governor, who is the Chief Security Officer of the state, beg bandits to stop killing his people? Why is this okay at all?
Elrufai should be reminded that he is the governor of a multi-religious, multi-cultural and diverse state. He cannot afford to be partisan in situations that require his full, unbiased attention. These are humans that are being killed continually and without regard for the law, he needs to be firm and decisive with these herdsmen regardless of the fact that he is “Fulani like them”.
He should draw the attention of the Federal Government and make sure significant and long-lasting actions are taken against these aggressors. Nigeria does not need another situation that may become intractable and drawn-out. The government must act now. The Kaduna Killings must stop!