The many controversies surrounding the Kasuwan Magani crisis and the need for violence to be eschewed and peace entrenched as captured by our Kaduna correspondent, ISAIAH BENJAMIN.
Where seems not to be a clear picture of what necessitated the renewed violence in Kasuwan Magani of Kajuru local government area on Thursday October 18 2018 where many persons lost their lives and property worth millions destroyed. According to some persons, the crisis started when a thief was apprehended on Wednesday, October 17th, 2018 after stealing some grains. The alleged thief was said to have been beaten by those who apprehended him and his (suspect’s) friends mobilised for revenge and that aggravated the situation, which snowballed into Thursday the 18th which is the market day for the area. Another version of what may have led to the crisis is that a customer bought some goods and refused to pay the exact amount resulting into an argument and a fight ensued as a result.
Whichever version of whatever may have led to the crisis, the fact still remains that the crisis was avoidable in that area but was permitted and it resulted into loss of lives and destruction of properties. But a statement issued by the Kaduna State Police Command after the violence had erupted, painted another scenario as to the cause of the crisis, according to the statement signed by the state commissioner CP Ahmad Abdurrahman at a press briefing, it reads; “I feel obliged to brief you on the crisis at Kasuwan Magani Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
The unfortunate incident occurred yesterday evening 18/10/2018 being the market day of the village. The immediate cause as revealed was that while the market was about to close, two people appeared quarrelling then suddenly a group of misguided youths rushed into the market which created panic and people started running helter-skelter; at the same time buildings and shops engulfed in fire, including those from far places. That suggests a premeditated action. I quickly mobilised teams of policemen from 1 PMF, Operation Yaki, to reinforce the DPO of the area who was already on ground.
However, the senseless incident having coincided with the market day resulted in the killing of about 55 innocent lives and wanton destruction of properties. Consequently, the State Government has imposed a 24hour curfew and normalcy has returned to the area. The effort of the Police in tackling the crisis has been commendable. So far, about 22 suspects have been arrested in connection to the incident and we are still making efforts to arrest more. The matter is currently being investigated and I want to assure the general public that Justice will be done. Anybody found culpable will be prosecuted.
At the moment, we have fortified security in and around the area while the curfew still remains in force”. The commissioner stressed that the Kaduna Police Command under his watch is battle ready to fish out any trouble shooter no matter how highly placed and will allow the heavy burden of the law to bear aggressively on whosoever is found culpable. He reiterated that the police would not allow unscrupulous elements to deny the good people of Kaduna State the hard-earned peace they have been enjoying. “As normalcy has returned in the area, our security deployment would be maintained until complete peaceful atmosphere is restored.”
He appealed to the general public to continue to go about their normal businesses and to report promptly, any suspicious person or movement that is likely to cause breach of peace and public order. “I also want to warn rumour mongers to desist from passing information that is capable of inciting disturbance or else the law would catch up with them.
Finally, let me thank all the stakeholders of the area for the support they have given us especially when I summoned them for an impromptu meeting during this trying period. To the gentlemen of the press, a sincere big thank to you all for your understanding and for the balanced reporting”. That was the position of the police, although some persons in the troubled Kasuwan Magani disclosed that over hundred persons may have lost their lives. In any case, the actual number of deaths may not be the issue; the fact remains that this reoccurring crisis in Kasuwan Magani needs to be nipped in the bud once and for all.
It would be recalled also that in February 2018, there was a mayhem that saw scores killed in the same Kasuwan Magani, Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna State where several persons lost their lives and properties destroyed. Shortly after that crisis, a group from the area under the auspices of Adara Development Association cried out and raised the alarm of selective arrests and alleged acquisition of arms by people they termed as their attackers in the area. The Adara people also averred that those who attacked them in the crisis were still harbouring dangerous weapons with the intention of relaunching the attack if nothing was done about it then. It would be recalled that 13 persons were officially confirmed to have lost their lives during that crisis.
The National Assistant Secretary of Adara Development Association (ADA), Mr Luke Waziri, who gave their account of what transpired during that crisis while briefing newsmen then said, “precisely, on February 26, 2018, a Christian girl was allegedly converted to Islam by her boyfriend against the wish of her parents, but the girl was forced from the house of the loverboy by some youths, which led to the mayhem, and reiterated that the said girl is still in the house of her ‘abductor’. The group called on the state government and relevant authorities to disarm those they alleged were keeping sophisticated weapons in order to stop them from taking laws into their hands. Waziri noted that the mayhem was avoidable if those saddled with the responsibility of maintaining law and order had taken proactive measures. He also alleged that selective punishment was meted to Adara people, pointing out that only three Hausa Muslims were arrested from those on the offensive, while 67 of th Adara people that were on the defensive were arrested and charged to court.
“The arrests made were completely one- sided. It cannot be a mistake that out of 70 arrested by security agents; only about three are Hausa/Muslims. These arrests are deliberately designed to give the false impression that Hausa/Muslims were victims”. The Adara Scribe said, “We want to draw the attention of all authorities concerned about the high concentration of sophisticated weapons in the hands of those who attacked Adara community and are residents of Kasuwan Magani. “If the authorities concerned ignore this valuable piece of information, then they have licensed some well-armed persons of Kasuwan Magani to carry out a massacre whenever and wherever they please. “Those who take pleasure in killing/slaughtering people, looting property, burning what cannot be looted and then openly bragging about it should not be left in possession of dangerous weapons waiting for another opportunity to strike.”
Therefore, nobody should blame, talk more of punishing us for our feeble attempts at self-preservation, since even federal might cannot protect us in contemporary Nigeria. “The Kasuwan Magani conflict was avoidable if the sole administrator of Kajuru local government, the Divisional Police Officer of the area and the state government had done thier work.” “That was bad enough, and they should not make it worse by embarking on selective punishment as is being currently (then) done. Nowhere in the world is genuine peace attained through injustice,” he stated then.
It is rather unfortunate that this recurring crisis in Kaduna is affecting several other areas, particularly during the February crisis, corps members serving in those areas were withdrawn and posting of corps members to those troubled areas was equally suspended according to the scheme coordinator in the state, Dahunsi Mohammed. The situation equally worsened with the renewed violence whereby the orientation camp for the new batch of corps members posted to the state was equally suspended until further notice.
This recent violence that broke out on Thursday October 18, 2018 was avoidable if perpetrators of the February 2018 crisis were adequately punished to serve as deterrent to others. Meanwhile, the prompt imposition of 24 hour-curfew by the state government under the leadership of Malam Nasir el-Rufai is quite commendable and the assurance to bring to justice all those apprehended in connection to the crisis is very apt.
The governor in a state broadcast also gave an account of the situation, according to him, “We visited Kasuwan Magani on Friday, 19th October 2018 to see things for ourselves, to commiserate with the people and to assess the security situation, which had by then become calm. We condemn the violence, and extend our sympathy to the victims, survivors and their families. I assure everyone affected that we will seek justice for them, and clearly underline that criminals will be punished according to law.
“We were appalled by the sense of panic that was triggered by rumours across several of our communities on Sunday, 21st October 2018, a situation that hoodlums exploited to engage in criminal activity and to violate the rights of other citizens. The aftermath of the disinformation and resulting panic led to the death of five citizens, injuries to many more and destruction of property within Kaduna metropolis.
“The Kaduna State government was therefore compelled to declare a 24-hour curfew in the metropolis to stem the proliferation of false rumours, prevent the spread of chaos and to enable the security agencies to restore calm. All night yesterday and throughout today, we have gone round affected areas, visited hospitals, interacted with communities and counseled against reliance on unsubstantiated information.
“I wish to urge everyone to reflect honestly and commit to firmly rejecting those who seek to incite and divide us. I call on all residents of Kaduna State to do their best to uphold peace and harmony. No one gains from a situation of chaos. The ultimate guarantee of peaceful coexistence is the willingness of individuals and our communities to live in peace. Harmony in our land requires a commitment to obey the law, and to use only peaceful and lawful means to resolve differences”.
The governor acknowledged that the diversity of Kaduna State is real and that it is a blessing of the Almighty God and no one will be allowed to tamper with this gift. The right bestowed by the Constitution allowing every citizen to live where they choose will be vigorously upheld by the government.
“To enforce these rights, this government will work to fast track the prosecution of at least 25 persons arrested for the recent incident, as well as the 63 persons arrested during the February 2018 episode in Kasuwan Magani. It is clear to us that unless people are seen to be expeditiously punished for such criminal acts, impunity and reckless disregard for human life and property would continue.
“Let us make our Kaduna State a place of peace. The alternative is in no one’s interest. As your governor, I will continue to do my duty to assert and protect everyone’s right to live in peace. We will vigorously intensify security presence, prosecute offenders and continue to build peace and confidence across our communities. Let us all do it together,” the governor advocated.
In fact, the governor’s advocacy for peace should be the position of every well-meaning individual in the state, but above all, those genuinely apprehended in connection with the violence regardless of their status should be made to face the full wrath of the law. It is however important to also emphasis that those apprehended by the security at the point of safeguarding their streets from attack by intruders must not be punished unjustly, this is another way to prevent reprisals. Again, traditional and religious leaders must be on top of the situation by speaking to their followers on the need to embrace peace at all times and see each other as brothers and sisters.
Above all, the government must ensure creation of employment to the teeming unemployed youths who are ready tools to be used for violence. Violence is no respecter of persons, religion or ethnicity as anybody could be a victim, therefore let us also fear God in all our dealings, that is the sure way to ending this recurring crisis.
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