By Luka Binniyat
Thousands of villagers from communities in Southern Kaduna yesterday staged a peaceful, solemn procession in Gwantu, Headquarters of Sanga Local Government Area, of Kaduna state against what they said was unrelenting deadly sieges on their communities by armed herdsmen and the confiscation of their lands for Cattle Grazing Reserves by Kaduna State Government.
The highlight of the procession was the presence of a pitiable looking, retired ASP Gambo Usman, whose wife and all his five children were killed in Kobin village, about 5km to Gwantu by herdsmen while he was away.
Addressing the protesters who were all clad in black, the President of Southern Kaduna Peoples Union, SOKAPU (the umbrella body of all the 67 ethnic nationalities of Southern Kaduna), Dr. Musa Solomon, accused Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State of allegedly funding a joint military task force to recover rustled cows and arresting the bandits in Birnin Gwari forests in the eastern part of the state, while the governor did nothing to protect scores of residents who were killed in Southern part of the state.
The leader of a Coalition of Southern Kaduna Professionals, (the organisers of the protest) Mr. Mark Jacob, a former Kaduna State Commissioner of Justice and Attorney General of Kaduna state, who spoke at the event said it was unjustifiable for any government to seize inherited land of famers and allocate it to pastoralists for their exclusive economic uses.
Before the commencement of the procession, the President of SOKAPU told the crowd at the old motorpark Gwantu that Sanga had become the symbol of the killings in Southern Kaduna.
He said: “Today, we have come here, irrespective of our religion, political affiliations and ethnic groups, to inform you that we are sad witnesses to all the evil that has come over Sanga and many parts of Southern Kaduna and that we share your pains, anger and frustration.
“We are joining our brothers and sisters all over the world, and all men of goodwill and conscience to say that enough of the bloodshed of our harmless people in Sanga and other parts of Southern Kaduna. Enough of blood shed and kidnap in Kaduna state. Let it Stop!
“SOKAPU stand with you in demanding that the energy, commitment and funds with which the present government of Kaduna state is spending in co-funding a joint military operations in the forests and bushes of Birning Gwari to rescue rustled cows and goats, should be extended to Southern Kaduna to save human lives and secure property.
“He has shown his preference for cattle and goats over the scores of human lives killed in Southern Kaduna under his government. “With all the seriousness we can muster, SOKAPU reject completely the confiscation of 120,000 hectares’ of our ancestral lands as Cattle Grazing Reserves.
“ Even, when the constitution entrusts all lands in the hands of state governors, it is clear that no land should be taken from a community and allocated to another entity for its exclusive use for profit,” he said.
The crowd later formed a long procession, singing a funeral hymns, with some women who have lost loved ones in the carnage sobbing as they proceeded to Local Government Council Secretariat, about half a kilometre away.
The Deputy Chairman, Sanga LGA Caretaker Committee, who received the crowd and was handed the statement read by the SOKAPU president, on behalf of the Chairman, said he was happy to see that Southern Kaduna indigenes had such concern for Sanga.
“I will deliver your message to the Chairman, and I am sure he will forward it to the Governor,” he said. The crowd later dispersed to the various communities.