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.