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‘We heard agonising screams as girl, 2 brothers were hacked to death’

By Luka Binniyat

Kaduna – The night was damp and cold as the  breeze rustled corn leaves which bounded most compounds in Bitaro village.  One could see the flickering of lightening in the far horizon signalling the retreat of the rain that had been pouring  since the previous  evening. It was around 1 a.m. and a Sunday.  Then men suspected to be Fulani arrived.

Moments later, no fewer than  three persons were hacked to death in this  suburb  of Koi town  in Jaba Local   Government Area (LGA) of Kaduna State.   The state police spokesman, ASP Aminu Mohammed,  confirmed the murder but said he wasn’t sure about the number of those wounded.

The attack did not shock many observers of southern Kaduna; after all, Hausa and Fulani residents of Koi were sent packing by their long time hosts, though in a manner devoid of bloodshed during the last April political upheaval in  northern Nigeria.

Jabba (natives of Koi and environs) had enjoyed a robust symbiotic relationship with the Fulani spanning centuries.

The Jabba people are reputed to be the highest producers of ginger in Africa, and the dung of  cow has remained their  fertiliser, thus engaging the Fulani in symbiotic relationship as they allowed them permanent pastoral lands.

In all ethnic religious conflicts in southern Kaduna, the Fulani living in Jabba lands had  always been unaffected.

But last week’s attack may have  finally signaled what promises to be  a  pitched, hide -and – seek battle between the Fulani and Jabba people, if the pattern of Fulani attacks on  Berom villages in Plateau State should be used as an example.

“The attack took place around 1 a.m. They attacked about four homes. It has been confirmed that three people were killed. They did not use any fire arms. They used  machetes and knives to kill them. As I speak, the police and soldiers keeping the peace in the area are combing the bushes for the attackers. They killed two men and a woman. I don’t know the number of those injured, but they are taking treatment at a nearby hospital. We hope to get them from where they are hiding”, a security source said.

Another source in the town, who spoke on phone,  claimed that  the attackers had guns and that they  numbered  about 20. He said they  killed the head of a family who he identified as Hassan D. Baba, his younger brother and a 13-year old girl. Ten people, according to the resident, are in  hospital.

“The  men  are Fulani cattle people. They entered the village after we had  gone to sleep. The dogs were barking wildly.   “When they came, they took the family out and started attacking them with matchets. Women and children were screaming for help. These men were shooting to scare away anyone.

We heard them. The entire community came out but we were afraid to confront them. We had not a single gun. But I quickly took my car and rushed to Kwoi and informed the soldiers.  Even the soldiers heard the   shootings  and the crying of the women and children. But they said they  had to call their boss to take permission  before doing anything.

And theyman was not around. Before the got the permission,  my brothers and I rushed back to  the village.

They Fulani had done their worst and had left. Then the soldiers came. But the attackers  had  fled. If the soldiers had responded promptly, I am sure they would have apprehended them.

“The soldiers came in too late. The youth of the village mobilised themselves and went to different areas in the bush but could not see any trace of the attackers”, he said.

The resident explained that those injured during the attack were rushed to the General Hospital, Kwoi, adding that  the community’s youths gathered at the hospital, expressing anger,  but the Kpop Ham (chief of Koi)  sent a delegation to address them to be calm and leave everything to  security men.

The number of soldiers deployed in the community has been doubled, according information available to Sunday Vangaurd.

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