By Sam Eyoboka, Luka Binniyat & Abdulwahab Abdulah
THE United Nations, UN yesterday waded into the festering crisis in Southern Kaduna, promising to look into the killings that have plagued the area with a view to ensuring that justice prevails.
This development was contained in a memo sent to the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, by Dr Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur of the United Nations on Extra-Judicial or Arbitrary Executions. The UN move is sequel to SERAP’s petition urging the international body to intervene in the extra-judicial murders in Southern Kaduna, where many people, including women and children have lost their lives.
SERAP, in a petition dated December 30, 2016 had urged the UN to ensure that government identifies “the perpetrators and bring them to justice, and to provide reparations to victims.”
This is coming as the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, accused the Council of Imams & Ulamas of Kaduna of being hypocritical in its call for the arrest of CAN leaders for inflammatory and inciting comments on the issue, just as the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, JNI said it is yet to forget how Christians killed Muslims in 2011 in Southern Kaduna.
Dr Callamard, in a communication sent to SERAP, yesterday, said: “Many thanks to SERAP for your petition. I am writing to confirm that I have well received it and will review it with great attention. I will update you on follow-up interventions.”
Equally, SERAP in its statement confirmed receipt of the memo while commending the body for its quick response and promise for intervention.
“We welcome the attention by the Special Rapporteur to the matter and her commitment to pursue justice and accountability with respect to the killings in Southern Kaduna.”
She has led human rights investigations in more than 30 countries and published extensively, in both English and French, on human rights, women’s rights, freedom of expression, refugee movements and the methodology of human rights investigation
You’re hypocrites, CAN replies Council of Imams
The CAN National Secretariat, yesterday, fired back at the Council of Imams and Ulamas of Kaduna State, saying its call had exposed the hypocrisy of those behind the call, arguing that if the Muslim clerics claim to preach peace, tolerance and respect for human lives, “we would expect them to have come out to call the rampaging Muslims herdsmen to order; condole the victims and join in the process of looking for a lasting solution, but mum was their response.”
In a recent press conference, the Islamic clerics had called for the arrest of CAN president, Dr. Samson Ayokunle, the Senator Representing Southern Kaduna, Senator Danjuma Laah, the president of Southern Kaduna Peoples Union, SOKAPU, Dr. Solomom Musa, Rev. Zechariah Gado, Hon. Sunday Marshal, Dr. Danfulani, and CAN Secretary General, Rev. Dr. Musa Asake, for the Islamic clerics believe amounts to stoking the sectarian killings by Fulani herdsmen in Southern Kaduna.
In a statement made available to Vanguard yesterday, the CAN Scribe, Rev. Musa Asake wondered why the Council turned a blind eye to the most troublesome revelation of Kaduna State Game overnor Nasir el-Rufai, who re-affirmed that he knows the killers of Southern Kaduna Christians and has traced some of them to some African countries and paid them sums of money to stop the pogrom.
Continuing, CAN stated that the demand of these Muslims preachers has again reaffirmed their hypocrisy. “To CAN, this is a surprising shameless, unveiled criminal support for evil. While, the killings of children, women, aged and the most defenseless of Southern Kaduna natives and the destruction of entire communities was at its peak, no one knew that a group called Council of Imams and Ulama existed in Kaduna state.
“When Church leaders under the banner of CAN kept praying for Southern Kaduna and other affected areas in the country, visiting traumatized communities and softly calling on government to do the needy, this Council of Imams was silent and invisible,” the stated added.
CAN recalled that on August 16, 2016, a chieftain of Kaduna State Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, Dr. Haruna Usman, in a well-publicized reaction to the mindless killings by the terrorists, said that the sacking of Ninte, and other villages, in Jema’a Local Government, was in response to the killing of a Fulani ardo in Ninte. He spoke authoritatively as one in the knowledge of the massacre.
“In another press conference in Kaduna on November 7, 2016 Jema’a Foundation, Miyetti Allah and Mobgal Fulbe Development Association confirmed that Fulani and Hausa Muslims have been behind the ethnic cleansing and destruction of villages and houses of worship in Southern Kaduna. They claimed they had to do this to entrench their rights to practice Islam, alleging they were being marginalized in Southern Kaduna.
“Those who addressed the press were Abdullahi Hassan Mohammed, Ahmad M. Yandeh and Abdulhamid Musa. Again, on December 31, 2016, Dr. Ibrahim Abdullahi, the Assistant National Secretary of Miyetti Allah also echoed the same position that the Fulani were carrying out reprisal killings.
“In view of this glaring confession by all these Fulani men, is it not reprehensible, distasteful and vile that the Council of Imams and Ulama Kaduna State did not call for the arrest of these people who are in conspiracy with the murderers?
“With their position now, it is obvious that these Imams are part of the evil network desperately trying to decimate the Christian population of Southern Kaduna and the taking over of their lands by Islamist herdsmen terrorists. These are the Muslim clerics that encourage and inspire the jihad carried out by their foot soldiers,” it stated.
Continuing, the statement said these Imams are very sad that “we have refused to keep silent as we are speaking up to government and telling the world the devilish plot against the Christian community in Southern Kaduna and other affected areas.
“While those they inspired through their wicked sermons to kill and conquer new territories for Islam are carrying out their instructions, they are now intimidating the victims with Gov. El-Rufai’s infamous position of “call for self-defense is hate speech.”
According to the statement, the prayers of Christians are being answered for “our Lord Jesus Christ is exposing the enemies of His Kingdom one by one. For the records, the words and the way of life of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world before whom all knees shall bow, was never violent. CAN therefore, thrives under His inspiration and guidance.
“We can never call on a Christian to kill another human being. But we cannot tell a Christian to unjustly submit himself to murderers, his family wiped, his community taken over with crude violence so that a new community of herdsmen terrorists be established as it is happening now in Southern Kaduna — especially as government is not showing enough commitment to arresting the situation.
“CAN therefore, has no apology over what comment it has made on the religious cleansing in Southern Kaduna and other places in the country.
“It is clear fact that CAN has the more to lose with the continuance of these madness. Since May last year to date in Southern Kaduna alone, over 100 Christians have been killed; over 53 communities with their churches have been destroyed and not less than 16 villages have been conquered and are now being occupied by Fulani herdsmen terrorists.
We’re yet to forget Christians killed Muslims in 2011 – JNI
However, the JNI, in a press statement by its Secretary-General, Dr. Khalid Abubakar Aliyu,yesterday, said that the 2011 “gruesome” killings of Muslims in 2011 post-election violence in Southern Kaduna by Christians was still on its mind, saying, “if the witch forgets, the mother of the bewitched son forgets not.”
The JNI, which described the violence in Southern Kaduna as unfortunate, also pointed accusing fingers at some religious leaders for giving the violence a religious tone, exaggerating casualty figures and calling for self-defence.
The statement read in part: “The National Headquarters of Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI) painstakingly notes with concern the unfortunate sectarian violence, which bedevilled Southern Kaduna for quite sometime now and it has monitored events relating to the unfortunate serial killings, as they unfolded.
“More worrisome was the ineptitude and pettiness of some religious leaders, and individuals with sinister motives and political undertones alongside intent to forment trouble, and imbalanced reportage.
“Unguarded utterances full of exaggerations, beating the drums of war were the order of the day, and also planting the seed of discord, acrimony, hate speech and unguarded statements.
“JNI is really worried with these aforementioned and ugly developments of accusations and counter-accusations from religious leaders, which could lead to an unending conflict. Nonetheless, as always, we reiterate that human life is sacred and should be treated so.
“It should be, however, noted that the 2011 post-election violence is still fresh in our memories, particularly the documented gruesome murder of Muslims by the Southern Kaduna Christians. The then Federal Government had to set up a powerful Committee in order to investigate the immediate and remote causes that led to the saga and further advise the government.