To say that Southern Kaduna is gradually turning into a killing field is to state the obvious. The most recent is the reported killing of 11 people by gunmen in an attack in Gora Gan village of Zango Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State. The attack came barely 24 hours after 21 people were said to have also been killed by supposed bandits at Kukum Daji village in neighbouring Kaura Local Government Area.
Again, last week, 24 people were reported killed by bandits in what seemed like coordinated attacks in three communities of Zango Kataf Local Government Area. And for the better part of last week, gory pictures of bodies of people killed in Southern Kaduna filled the media space in what could best be described as an act of barbarism, if not bestiality.
In March this year, gunmen reportedly killed 11 people in Kaduna despite the curfew imposed on the state to curb the spread of COVID-19. In a statement, Luka Binniyat, spokesman of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), said the killings took place in Guruku ward, Kuduru village in Chikun Local Government Area and Jagindi in Jema’a Local Government Area. Furthermore, over 30 people were said to have been killed since May 12, 2020, when gunmen, believed to be herdsmen, invaded some villages in Kajuru LGA of the state.
In its reaction to the killing in southern Kaduna, The Presidency had said that the problem of insecurity in Southern Kaduna State is more complicated than many people are willing to admit. From available records, Southern Kaduna enjoys comprehensive security deployments, including the Army, Special Forces of both the Army and the Air Force, surveillance aircraft by the Air Force and mobile police units that are on ground on a 24-hour basis to forestall criminality and keep the peace.
The problem in Southern Kaduna is a combination of politically-motivated banditry, revenge killings and mutual violence by criminal gangs acting on ethnic and religious grounds. However, while the reasons given by the Presidency may be plausible, it is immaterial, in our opinion, whether the killings were motivated by revenge or politics. Government must just wake up to its responsibility and find a way to stop these senseless killings.
It is important to note, in our view, that while Kaduna North especially the Birnin Gwari axis is constantly being attacked by bandits who have killed scores of people on the road and kidnapped many others, the southern part is being hounded by suspected killer herdsmen.
This newspaper is appalled by this orgy of violence, bloodshed and destructions in southern Kaduna. Government, at all levels, must just find a way to halt this ugly trend. There is no doubt that the military has been overstretched with various security operations in different parts of the country. While the war against insurgency is still going in the North East, bandits are making life a living hell for people in the North West and parts of the north central. These are additions to the waves of kidnapping and other criminalities being perpetuated on a high scale around the country.
It is instructive to note that the 2019 Global Terrorism Index (GTI) showed that Nigeria remained the third most impacted country in the world by terrorism, ranking behind Iraq and Afghanistan.
In our considered opinion, we strongly suggest that the Kaduna State Government should implement the white paper on the Zango Katanga crisis. It is gratifying to note that the state government had set up an eight-member committee to draw up a white paper on two reports on the perennial crisis in Zangon-Kataf Local Government Area of the state. The committee is to work on the recommendations of the Justice Rahila Cudjoe Commission of Inquiry. It is sad to note that the state government recently lamented that one of the factors identified by the Justice Cudjoe Commission as an immediate cause of the 1992 carnage in Zangon-Kataf is still a trigger for murder and unlawful conduct 28 years after that tragedy.
We contend that while land ownership can be adduced as one of the reasons for the continuous killings, trust and religious intolerance have also been identified as a major triggers of the endless crisis. It is also our contention that the reason for the recurring crisis in parts of Kaduna State is the inability of the government to deal decisively with culprits and perpetrators of the killings.
That said, there’s no doubt that the government needs the support of political, religious and traditional rulers to end the killings in the area. The people should be properly oriented on the need to embrace peace and religious tolerance. Also, severe punishment should be meted out to perpetrators of the killings which will serve as a deterrent and boost confidence of the people in the security agencies and the government. We cannot continue to live like jungle’s weird beings.