as gunmen massacre 50, burn 245 homes, 7 churches
I find these recurring attacks most distressful and disturbing — Zangon-Kataf chief laments
By Ibrahim Hassan-Wuyo
The man is in pain. He feels sick and sad each day as he sits on his throne as a royal father.
Unlike what he used to do in the past when peace occupied a pride of place in his kingdom, he can no longer sleep with two eyes closed. These days His Royal Highness Sir Dominic Gambo Yahaya, the Paramount Ruler of Agwatyap Chiefdom in Zanko-Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State, is in constant fear of armed militias, kidnappers and evil men who have reduced the area to a conquered territory by ravaging it at will, killing, maiming, abducting men, women and children in droves and destroying anything meaningful for reasons yet to be made known to him and his people.
His concerns appear genuine and duly acknowledged by the authorities at the local, state and federal levels in that at the last quarterly briefing organised by the Kaduna State Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan and Governor Nasir el-Rufai, specifically appealed to the royal father to continue to be patient over the security challenges in his kingdom as government takes more measures to contain them. And, the royal father’s headache has metastasised: he is not only seriously troubled but can no longer hide his frustration.
His anger and disappointment stem from the fact that shortly after the security briefing, criminal elements invaded his Atyap Kingdom and slaughtered no fewer than 12 natives, among them six women, three men and three children. Two of the slain women were pregnant. Before that brutal onslaught, gunmen had descended on many other Atyap communities and snuffed life out of 50 members. They destroyed 254 homes and seven churches in Gora Gida, Wawa Rafi, Warkan, Manyie-Aywie, Ahtak-Kanai, Magata, Magauri, Matyei, Abuyab, Magamia, Makarau, Mayayit, Manchong and Ma’door.
When the report of these unwarranted deaths and destructions got to him, an alarmed and enraged royal father, Yahaya exploded: “I find these recurring attacks most distressful and disturbing as the killers who are known to have lived among the communities, when they set out to maim and kill, will always call the victims out by their names, to notify them of their mission to kill before committing the dastardly acts on the helpless farmers.
“It has reached a sorry state that no farmer can venture out to the farmland, as the chances of returning home alive are very slim. This, no doubt, gives cause for alarm as the resultant effect of these actions will give rise to hunger in the land, since there would be no crops to harvest. At this juncture, it bears no exaggeration to say here that the Atyap land is under siege by armed bandits/herdsmen militias. These killings are condemnable to say the least.
“I, therefore, call for a complete cessation of these dastardly acts in Atyap Chiefdom and anywhere else in the country.”
The monarch said although he kept faith with the peace efforts embarked on by all communities in the chiefdom, aimed at enthroning sustainable peace in the land by consistently restraining the youth from taking the laws into their hands, the recurring killings had reached an extreme height of provocation. He said that the unrestrained attacks had led many well-meaning people within and outside the chiefdom to rightly question the rationale of the peace process which they have laboured assiduously to sustain.
“I wish to passionately appeal to the state and federal governments to come to the aid of the over 15,000 homeless peasants in my domain who are now in internally displaced persons’ camps by providing succour particularly in the area of building materials to enable them re-erect structures to return to their communities. I, therefore, call on security agents to adopt extreme measures towards containing these unwarranted and unprovoked orgies of killings. I sympathise with family members and relations who have lost loved ones in these attacks, and pray Almighty God to grant the deceased eternal rest, and console the bereaved families.”
Yahaya is not alone in expressing such level of frustration and disappointment and the situation is not looking better even with the clampdown on use of telecommunications masts in some parts of the state and other measures adopted by government to sustain ongoing onslaught on bandits in Kaduna bushes.
According to the Christian Association of Nigeria, the abduction of Christians and destruction of churches were still high despite the measures rolled out by tgovernment in recent times. Rev. Joseph John Hayab, who spoke for CAN said: “It is sad to again remind us that despite different security measures put forward by the government, our children of Bethel Baptist High School, who were kidnapped since July 5, 2021 at the school premises in Damishi Kaduna have not all yet been released.
“Parents, school management, church leaders and relations are worried. We have prayed and we are still praying; we have appealed and cried out to the government and those who we think are responsible for the security of our nation but the journey to freedom for these children have been with a speed of a snail. CAN Kaduna State, therefore, wishes to let Nigerians know that we still have four of our school children in captivity.
” The pains and trauma their parents are going through cannot be described. We must not forget these children and we are pleading with all Nigerians to join us to appeal to those concerned to do anything they can to help bring the four remaining children back home.”
CAN desires to see banditry and kidnapping in our dear state and in other parts of Nigeria come to an end but sadly more people are still being kidnapped despite the measures that the government is claiming to be putting in place. Government should therefore double her efforts to stop the evil these criminals are causing fellow citizens.”
The situation notwithstanding, the Kaduna State Government has reiterated that it is not leaving any stone unturned in its determined effort to stop banditry and other forms of criminality in the state.