By Luka Binniyat
KADUNA — “I was sleeping outside with some of my brothers when we were jolted from sleep at about 2 am on Sunday by cries of women and children, and pandemonium all around us”, recalls Zakaria Elisha (25), a Christian and trader of Nasarawa, a Christian dominated suburb of Kaduna, on his sick bed at St. Gerard Hospital, Kaduna, his face swathed in bandage, soaked in blood.
“We had heard rumours that supporters of CPC (Congress for Progressive Change), were coming to attack us, because Buhari (Gen Muhamadu Buhari, CPC Presidential candidate) was losing to Jonathan Goodluck, and they had to kill us because no Christian must rule Nigeria again.
“I thought it was a lie, because it had been long since we held this kind of violence.
(The last main ethno-religious crisis in Kaduna broke out in 2006 after a newspaper cartoon in Denmark angered Muslims across the globe)
“I woke up, and saw scores of Hausa boys with knives, sticks, guns, bows and arrows.
“Some were shooting, some were pursuing people and stabbing them ”, he said, groamking in pain as nurses and medics darted across the ward to take care of a record number of emergency cases as the Hospital officials claimed.
“We rushed and ran, but straight into another gang, who started cutting us with their long machetes. My two brothers were cut down. I don’t know what followed, but I was able escape with these wounds”, he said.
Dauda Hafis, 27, a Muslim and truck driver was retuning from Suleija to Zaria last Monday when he ran into a heavy roadblock mounted by Christian youths spoiling for war.
“I was stopped, and forced out. “They rushed at me with sticks and knives. “I was beaten with clubs, while others used machetes on me.
“Before I passed on, I saw my truck on fire and “I woke up in this hospital.
“I was told that some soldiers on patrol saw me and brought me here”, he said.
The soldiers were said to have turned on some residents for no just cause.
“A soldier broke down our gate, came into our compound and ordered everyone to get into his room and lock up”, said Naomi Amos 23, an applicant, who spoke on her hospital bed at the ECWA Health Centre, Narayi, Kaduna last Thursday.
“As I made haste to get my things and move in, the soldier said I was too slow.
“He hit me on the head with a club and was cursing Yakowa and Goodluck.
“I fell on the floor, and he hit me again. “But I blocked it with my hand, which now has a fracture, by the way I am feeling. “When he wanted to hit me for the third time, an old woman rushed at him and said she should be killed instead. “That was how my life was saved”, she said.
In Tudun Wada, Rigassa, Unguwan Sarki, Unguwan Shanu, Kawom Unguwan Ma’uazu, and Kabala Doki are ruins of churches and homes of victims.
The situation is not different in Narayi, Television Village, Sabon Tasha, Unguwan Romi, Maraban Riddo, and Unguwan Sunday, where no mosque remained standing on Thursday, houses and businesses of Muslims destroyed.
Many long-time residents of Kaduna, and those who claim knowledge of the state, agree that the latest wave of violence is unprecedented, in the number of casualties.
The Public Relations Officer of St. Gerard Hospital, Kaduna, Mr. Sunday John Ali, said: “We had about 30 corpses last Saturday. There were about 30 more bodies that were brought from outside”, he added.
“By Sunday, we had about over 300 victims, mostly from wounds sustained from bullets fired by high calibre weapons.
“All the hospitals in Kaduna were filled to capacity. Those that have mortuaries were also filled to the brim.
“It is only this hospital that tried to accommodate all that came. The doctors, nurses and all workers here worked so hard, that for 24 hours our x-ray machine was working. I have never seen this number of human beings injured; there has never been any fight like this in Kaduna.
Those who claim to read the signals of a looming danger in Kaduna, city the booing of Vice President Namadi Sambo and his wife during the National Assembly and Presidential election at his Camp Road voting unit by unruly CPC supporters.
The Chairman, CAN, Northern Nigeria, Elder Saidu Dogo, complained to Saturday Vanguard that, “before the Presidential elections, we heard of highly incisive preaching in mosques all over northern states, encouraging Muslims on what to do.
“Party offices were spared in affected areas, so why were Churches the first targets, then Christian clerics?”, he said, adding “this violence is clearly religious, not political.
“In Bauchi State, I have been informed that about 72 churches were burnt, and 32 Christians killed. Among them are 8 Youth Corps members. We are still getting more on the casualties. In Kano and in Zaria, most of our churches there were burnt, and several of our members killed. In Malumfashi, in Katsina State, no fewer than 18 churches were burnt, and I am yet to get the number of clerics and lay Christians killed”, he added.
But the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), the Muslim umbrella body in the North, dismissed the claims of CAN, saying, “it is a fabricated lie that can never be substantiated. “It is unfortunate that a religious leader would make such a comment at a time like this”, he said.
“Some of the problem that we face in this country is the hypocrisy of some of our religious leaders. We as leaders must learn to say what will not cause more problems.
“As far as the JNI is concerned, the violence is unfortunate, and uncalled for. The casualty is heaviest in Southern part of Kaduna. In Zonkwa, the Imam of the town was brought out on the road and slaughtered like a ram. Many mosques and Muslims were killed there, because the place is dominated by Christians. Also, on the Abuja-Kaduna expressway, passengers where attacked and killed by Christians ”.
In Kafanchan, CPC supporters allegedly imported mercenaries who went around shooting PDP supporters and non-Muslims and setting their homes and churches ablaze.
“I saw the body of a man beheaded after he was killed by these men”, said a source caught in the violence on Monday night.
“They are using grenade and rocket launchers, and the guns they are firing are not mere AK47s”, he told Vanguard from his hiding place.
The Police in Kafanchan were unable to curtail the situation, after youths from surrounding villages teamed up and entered Kafanchan around midnight to challenge the CPC armed men.
It was gathered that, with bows and arrows, cutlasses and sticks they managed to slow the advances of the attackers into some areas by their share numbers.
Number unknown but they include Prof. Ali Obge, of the Department of Guardian and Counselling, Faculty of Education, Ahmadu Bello Zaria; a female unidentified student of ABU, Samaru Campus, Zaria , was killed, her remains severed into two and dumped near a rail line.
In Zonkwa town, the JNI, said that the Cheif Imam of the town was slaughtered among other Muslims last Monday. The Kaduna state Police Command said they lost five officers.
About 100 churches in Ikara LGA were burnt. All the mosques in Zangon Kataf, LGA, and some Christain dominated areas of Kaduna town brought down.
The PDP in Kaduna state said in a statement that the houses of Ambassador Sule Buba, the Director General of the Yakowa-Nakowa Campaign organization, Alhaji Habibu Dobani, the zone 1 chairman of PDP and the Zaria house of Alhaji Sani Dauda (ASD) set on fire and razed down by CPC mob.
Also, two houses in Zaria and Makarfi belonging to Alhaji Hassan Jumare, Speaker of the Kaduna State House of Assembly and all his filling stations were burnt.
Other houses burnt include those of Alhaji Rabiu Jafaru, Commissioner for Lands and Survey, Hajia Halima Labbo, Commissioner for Special Duties, Alhaji Shehu Giant, former chairman of Kaduna North Local Government, Sadaunan Badarawa and Hon Tambuwal, amongst others said the PDP.
In Kafancha, the entire main market is now rubbles.
All businesses of non-Muslims, especially supermarkets and beer houses were torched.