By Yekeen Akinwale
Whatever the cause of the recent waves of killings and destructions in Kaduna State − more than 50 lives, the police said were already lost−it is clear that we never learned and understood that violence is not, and can never be a solution to our grievances.
With few months to another general election, these are definitely unhealthy developments for the country.
The decision to go berserk by any aggrieved party−to resort to the ongoing attacks− at this point in time in a state like Kaduna that never recovered from the grip of ethnic clashes, religious violent and of late banditry activities was not only ill-informed and against the ordinary people, but a great disservice to all.
It is difficult to decipher whether those who orchestrate these crises clearly understand the imports of their selfish decisions or those who are the tools in their hands really took their time to examine how these have dented their lives and those of others. It is unimaginable how some people are comfortable with blood in their hands− and they live like vampires.
Once a Ville Des Possibles (City of possibilities), for indigenes and non-indigenes, Kaduna, now like, Jos is a city even travelers who traverse its express roads are targets of ethnic and religious fighters and now often, kidnappers who are on the prowls.
Early residents of Kaduna and Jos, were gripped by that sense of possibility, that many among them originally from South West and South-East never dreamt of returning to their own roots. The only place they and their descendants have known as homes as these cities.
Four times curfew imposed in Kaduna in two years
What has suddenly tore apart the cord of unity, peace and tranquility in Kaduna is still a mystery. The relative peace once enjoyed in the state is fast eroding and scary too.
Between December 2016 and October 2018, the government of Kaduna State has imposed curfew four times after violence erupted in some parts of the state.
This is outside the activities of bandits who have turned Birnin Gwari town to a killing field in recent time.
Kaduna had hardly known peace since 1980 and it is unfortunate for such a cosmopolitan city− it is home to all Nigerians but they are now on the run for fear of attacks.
In 2016, Christmas was observed under curfew in Kafanchan area of the state after a deadly clash between Fulani herdsmen and natives. A 12-hour curfew was issued by the governor, to according to him, ‘stabilize the security situation in the area.’
“Well, we have curfew, even on Christmas day, but it is for 12 hours. People will be able to get out in the morning at 6.00 a.m. and be back at 6.00 p.m. It is because of the security situation,” El-Rufai said of the need to impose the curfew.
Again in February 2017, the state government was forced to declare another curfew after at least 21 people were killed in Jema’a and Kaura local government areas of the state.
The state security council announced a 24-hour curfew afterward. Many houses were also burnt in the attacks.
Samuel Aruwan, spokesman of Governor El-Rufai, said the curfew was imposed to prevent further break down of law and order.
In August 2018, the governor imposed a 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew on Kwaru and Ungwan Yero communities in the Kaduna North Local Government Area of the state.
This followed the killing of two youths in the communal clashes that took place in the two communities.
And just two months after, Kaduna is already boiling for reasons that are yet unknown. The government, in response, to curb the destruction, exercised its constitutional power−imposed another curfew making it the fourth in two years.
“This is a notice of a 24-hour curfew imposed on Kaduna town and environs, with immediate effect. Residents are advised to comply by this directive. The decision has been taken in the best interest of the state,” El-Rufai stated after a crisis that had claimed 55 lives.
The number of deaths in Kaduna
Not many have paused to imagine the quantum of loss−human and materials that has followed the incessant crises in Kaduna. Perhaps, if this has been taken into cognizance, those behind these needless killings would have had a rethink.
Before the recent waves of attack, Governor El-Rufai in January 2017 revealed that no fewer than 20,000 people lost their lives in the various crises that had rocked Kaduna State since 1980.
El-Rufai said it was regrettable that of all the crises in the past 35 years which led to the destruction of lives and property, nobody has been prosecuted for the dastardly acts.
In the same January 2017, the National Emergency Management Agency, (NEMA), disclosed that the crisis in Southern Kaduna between Fulani herdsmen and the natives which has lasted months claimed 204 lives.
But the Catholic Church in its report of the same crisis put the casualty figure at 808 as of December 2016, a figure that was disputed by the Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris who did not give a contrary number. The Catholic Church also said 1,422 houses, 16 Churches, 19 shops, and one primary school were destroyed.
Such were the attendant losses in human and materials for just one crisis.
Nobody has been prosecuted for the killings, and this, the Governor of the state lamented.
Given the death tolls from 2017 till date, the figure is far over 20,000 for those that were recorded and the unreported deaths are unimaginable.
The unintended victims
As with Jos, so it has been with Kaduna−travelers on Kaduna express road have also become victims of the madness.
We are yet to come to terms with the shocking discoveries from the Jos Pond, that’s better called ‘Pond of deaths.’
Definitely, it is not only in Jos, that innocent travelers are made scapegoats of crisis they knew nothing about. It is so sad how the nation’s moral fabric and cord unity are being shredded by hatred sown by people who are hell bent at causing war.
For only God knows how many people have passed through some unfortunate incidents and have disappeared without trace.
Only on Sunday, some innocent travelers were caught in the midst of cross fire on their way to Kano. It took the intervention of some Hausa speaking passengers for some Kano bound travelers to escape being harmed while so were not so lucky.
Many of these attacks on travelers have gone unreported and underscore the spiral effect of the crisis.
The call for a re-think
The level of hypocrisy in the land is frightening as it is alarming –we do not practice what we profess. Those who preach peace are yet the same people that are promoting anarchy in the land.
Are we going to ever change in Nigeria? People who sponsor and foment trouble across the country are religious people− Muslims and Christians. Yes, they are among us− men and women that we respect, young and old that we all know. When crisis start, they forget what the scriptures teach and pick up the gauntlet.
People that frequent places of worship and often times mount pulpits and podium to sermonize against violence−they preach love, peace and unity and neighborliness, yet they are the promoters of anarchy.
If we must continue as brother and sisters, as neigbours, as co-travellers, the bitter truth be told that lessons from killings and destructions are calls for us all to rethink our actions and inaction.
A nation is as good as its people− if we want peace, we must work for it by ourselves, if we desire growth, we must lay foundation for it and if we crave for development, it is our duty to eschew bitterness and work for the common goal of the country. For in anarchy, nothing can thrive− insecurity does not guarantee growth and development. The time is now to have a re-think before Nigeria is shredded into pieces by selfish interest.
Akinwale is of the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR)