BY THE SOUTHERN KADUNA PEOPLES' UNION (SOKAPU) BEING AN ASSESSMENT OF THE POST-ELECTION VIOLENCE THAT SWEPT KADUNA AND SOME OF THE NORTHERN STATES, NIGERIA
The April 2011 National Elections conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has come and gone. The elections ushered in happy winners and badly bruised losers.
The losers anticipating losing the presidential election of April 16, unleashed their anger on innocent Nigerians in what is generally referred to as the post-election violence, which left in its trail colossal loss of lives and properties worth billions of naira. This dastardly act shook the foundation of our co-existence as a nation and raised fundamental questions on our corporate existence as a nation such that the preamble in our constitution which states that: â€˜We the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeriaâ€¦â€¦..solemnly resolved: To live in unity and harmonyâ€¦..' was challenged and ridiculed as simply a fallacy. A lot has been said and is still being said and much will continue to be said on the crisis for a long time especially in the light of our quest to have a vibrant democracy where every Nigerian is free to associate and have the right to choose his/her leaders.
GENESIS OF THE CRISIS
In line with what most Nigerians think, we shall assume that the crisis was politically motivated (whether the election simply detonated an untimed bomb is a subject for another time). Let us attempt to look at the remote and immediate causes of the crisis.
A. The remote cause of the crisis
The PDP zoning policy became a topical issue following the death of President Musa Yar'Adua. There was no question as to who becomes the immediate successor as the Vice President then Dr. Goodluck Jonathan was to take charge as stipulated in the constitution. The burning issue was whether President Goodluck Jonathan could go beyond May 29, 2011 without upsetting the PDP zoning arrangement and thus deny the north its chance for a second term. A simple party issue, we all thought, suddenly degenerated into a national debate and ignited strong reactions from some strong elements in the North who insisted that it was â€˜their' slot and anything short of that is a threat to the corporate existence of the Nigerian nation. In this regard, they mobilized support to block President Jonathan at the PDP primaries but failed. Their dream for a presidential ticket through the PDP did not materialize and hence the window of support for Gen. Buhari of CPC, Mr. Ribadu of ACN and Gov. Shekarau of ANPP automatically widened to receive the so-called pro- northern elements. Gen Buhari seemed to have been the candidate of choice for some youths who drummed up support for him through ethno-religious sentiments. For them anything short of Gen Buhari (sai Buhari), the north (sai Arewa) and Islam (sai Musulinchi) was unacceptable. The campaigns that followed thereafter were accompanied by harassment, intimidation and damage to vehicles and posters of perceived opponents. This was common place everywhere in the north. Regrettably, at no time did the CPC party cautioned these youths. Gen. Buhari in acknowledging the damage done to the campaign office of President Jonathan in Gombe simply sent an apology to the President and described his supporters who carried out the act as â€˜over enthusiastic youths'. Regrettably neither he nor the party called the youths to order. The CPC supporters were thus strengthened to sharpen the edge of their weapons for more dastardly acts. They therefore operated with the impression that the presidency is the birth right of the north or at least the right of the north this time around. The impression so created magnified Gen. Buhari as the best northern presidential candidate; indeed the remarks and impression created by Gen. Buhari himself during his campaign tours of the northern States gave reasons for the youths to believe that he was the Messiah the northern youths have been expecting. The comments of some northern politicians and the commentaries and opinions aired on the Hausa service of the BBC and the VOA further fueled the situation. The stage was now set for the emergence of the candidate of the north to win on the first ballot or possibly through a run-off. Some opinion writers in some national and northern newspapers regrettably drummed up the same opinion.
B The immediate causes of the crisis
The Presidential Election of April 16, 2011 is said to be the immediate cause of the post-election crisis. Indeed, this is the official position of the CPC (see The Nation newspaper, May 10, 2011, p.3). The party said that the violence was the product of the determination by an incumbent to win elections by any means.
The PDP said that the violence was engineered and masterminded by no other party but CPC (see Daily Trust newspaper, May 16, 2011, p. 4).The VOA service agreed with PDP (Broadcast of May 16, 2011). The CPC party had since dissociated itself and its supporters from the violence. In other words the CPC only knows why the violence occurred but is unable to identify those behind the violence.
It is pertinent to note that the election was conducted peacefully nationwide and almost all Nigerians and the Election Observers (Local and International) were in agreement that the elections were free, fair and credible. However, less than thirty hours after the said election and as the results were being collated and released on a state by state basis, news filtered in that some supporters of the CPC had in the late hours of Sunday 17th April, 2011 started burning tyres in protest of the results being announced by INEC. By the early hours of Monday 18th April, 2011, reports of killings and burning of properties of persons suspected to be PDP supporters was already underway in Kaduna, Zaria and Kafanchan, Zonkwa and other towns simultaneously. The early attack on PDP supporters was collaborated by the Kaduna Chapter of the Jama'atu Nasril Islam (see Daily Trust newspaper, May 6, 2011, p. 12). The INEC boss, Prof. Jega in his assessment of the situation said that the violence was a product of an expectation by a people who thought they were going to win. This again suggest that the violence was politically motivated and indeed by a political party. This is what the CPC doesn't want to hear.
PREMIDITATED NATURE OF THE VIOLENCE
Suddenly there was a twist from what appeared to be a politically motivated violence to carefully selected attacks on Christians and their places of worship and properties. This twist therefore debunked the hypothesis that the violence was purely political in nature. This is more so when it is viewed within the context that the violence happened on a wide scale, simultaneously and showed a particular trend. For Christians, it was indeed a tsunami. Given too that the violence erupted even before a winner was declared and that it took place even in states like Kaduna and where CPC had earlier made an impressive outing in the national assembly and presidential elections is indeed disturbing and only goes to suggest that the violence was not purely political in nature.
For us, it is only reasonable to speculate that the political colouration that is said to have triggered the violence was merely a camouflage by a group of religious bigots who have found a nesting twig on the platform of politics. They are quite intolerable to anything that does not go their way and expectation. We therefore find the theory that the violence was purely politically motivated faulty and hold strongly that the seed of anti-Christian violence had been planted long before the crisis. The violence was thus premeditated and only got detonated on the excuse that the election was rigged. This explains why the violence broke out simultaneously in all these towns and villages in Kaduna State particularly in Southern Kaduna towns and trailed Christians as its victims.
WHY THE ATTACK ON CHRISTIANS AND THEIR PROPERTIES
We want the Nigerian public to note that wherever the crisis broke out, the target of attack by the rioters were the Christians, their properties and their churches. The question is what is the relationship between Christians, their churches and their properties and the politics of elections that warranted the attacks by the rioters? When did Christians become a political party? Is PDP a Christian party? Are there no Christians and Muslims in all registered political parties? It is clearly an indication that the crisis was premeditated or prepared long before the elections. Given the trend, there was certainly a Commander-in-Charge of the operations, which we hope the panels set up will identify and fish him out and his foot soldiers.
WHO ARE THE AGGRESSORS OR INTIATORS OF THE VIOLENCE?
While we feel equally concerned about what happened in other parts of northern Nigeria, we would like to focus our attention on our immediate environment i.e. Kaduna State ,where violent reactions to the April 16 presidential election broke out simultaneously in Kaduna, Zaria, Zonkwa, Kafanchan, Ikara, Soba, Makarfi, Yar Memo, Birnin Gwari, Buruku among other towns and villages in the State.
In Kaduna state, the question as to who was the aggressor is tactically being avoided by the Hausa/Fulani who would rather drum out to the world their losses than describe the genesis of the whole crisis wherever it occurred. The massive destruction of lives and properties in Zaria, Kaduna, Ikara, Makarfi, Soba and several villages in the far north of Kaduna State does not matter to them. Indeed, the VOA broadcast of May 16, 2011 rightly described the loss of lives and properties in Zaria and Kaduna as colossal and difficult to quantify. For us, the important element of interest is to identifying first and foremost the aggressor. Once this is done then what follows later could easily be latched in. The picture painted by the Hausa/Fulani and their ethno-religious press outfits is that the crisis that engulfed the southern part of Kaduna State was a reprisal attack on the muslim Hausa/Fulani stock and that the attacks were meant to completely wipe them out from the area. This is ridiculous and far from the truth. We seek an answer as why no such crisis erupted in Kachia and Sanga? The answer is simply - the aggressor did not show up there and everybody was at peace. No reprisal attacks. Let it be made clear that the Hausa/Fulani and indeed Nigerians are very welcomed to the southern part of Kaduna State. Everyone who has visited/stayed in that area will agree with us that we, like our Lord and Saviour Christ Jesus, are a peace loving people and are always at peace with everybody; indeed we are always at peace to a fault. Our tolerance level is exceptionally high. We are proud to say that in the history of Southern Kaduna it is generally unheard of that a community was the aggressor in any conflict. It is not just in our character.
Now, since the Kafanchan and Zonkwa incidences have remained the most celebrated amongst the Hausa/Fulani settlers, we would like to give a brief account of what happened there towards identifying the aggressors. Let it be on record that there was not at any time reprisal attacks on the Hausa/Fulani in Zonkwa and Kafanchan on account of the post-election violence that occurred in other parts of the state.
In the evening hours of April 17, 2011, residents of Kafachan heard usual calls to prayers at about 10pm from the Central Mosque. Unknown to the larger population of Kafanchan, this was a clarion call to arms. The Muslim community as it were assembled. We have it on record that one of the Muslim leaders in Kafanchan phoned 3 times to alert one of his friends in one of the nearby chiefdoms on an impending danger brewing amongst his men. Kafanchan soon vibrated with powerful gun shots that extinguished the silent and peaceful atmosphere of the town. This was followed by the burning of properties, killing and maiming of Christians and the destruction of their churches. Simultaneously, the violent attacks in Kafanchan were repeated in nearby Madakiya (Old Jema'a). Less than some twelve (12) hours later, some Fulani settlements in Southern Kaduna including Kagoro, Sabon Sarki, Abet and other villages spread over Southern Kaduna joined in attacking their host indigenous population. The indigenous population and other Christians were completely taken by surprise by the violent attack as they could not respond to the heavy gun fire against them by their attackers.
On April 18, 2011 the indigenous population of Zonkwa noticed an unusual evacuation of women and children out of Zonkwa by the Hausa/Fulani stock. This aroused suspicion and the incidence was reported to the police DPO. At a meeting with the DPO, the Hausa/Fulani denied the allegation of a planned attack. Shortly thereafter, the people of Zonkwa got report that a incoming truck loaded with yams had smashed a road block at Fadia to evade being checked and was heading for Zonkwa. In the light of the happenings in Kafanchan coupled with the earlier suspicion caused by the evacuation of women and children, and now a truck full of yams and evading check points only heightened the suspicion that all was not well. Besides, yams are usually shipped out of the area and not brought in as yams are well cultivated in the area. The truck on arrival at Zonkwa had to be literally forced to stop. While the driver took to his heels the Hausa/Fulani came to the aid of the truck insisting that it will not be checked. In the heat of all this a nearby hotel came up in flames and this extinguished the patience of the Zonkwa people who were already being molested and taunted by the Hausa/Fulani by saying in Hausa - sai an goge reni. Angers rose and the truck came on fire exposing the firearms that had been buried beneath the yams. Eventually both sides went to war! The burnt truck is still there today as a witness to the incidence. The police have this report in detail.
It took the indigenous youths in the various theatres of attack in Kafanchan, Zonkwa, Madakiya and other villages to summon courage and confronted their attackers with sticks, cudgels and bare hands. This resulted in the heavy casualty recorded among the indigenes. The entire Kafanchan, Zonkwa and indeed Southern Kaduna was held to ransom and completely cut off. No one could move in or out of the area as the heavily armed Muslims held sway for almost 48 hours. Residents in Kafanchan sent distressed calls to their relations and friends to request soldiers to come to their rescue.
It was the late arrival of soldiers that saved a bad situation. The local police were completely over powered by the aggressors. Indeed, the police admitted later that there was no way they could face the fire of the aggressors and therefore had to retreat. This can also be confirmed.
Therefore, for anyone to insinuate or impute that the indigenous community is the aggressor in Southern Kaduna, is attempting to stand the truth on its head. And this is impossible. The police are in a position to collaborate our position on this. We are happy that the VOA broadcast of May 16, 2011 has done just that.
In essence it not true that the people of Zonkwa and Kafanchan rose in reprisal attacks on the Hausa/Fulani in retaliation to the post-election crisis in the state.
THE USE OF HEAVY FIRE ARMS
This crisis witnessed the use of firearms to attack peace, loving Southern Kaduna people and other Christians as well as destroyed their churches and properties. The arrest of a truck full of arms in Zonkwa actually sparked off the crisis that engulfed the town. Who are the sponsors of the crisis and who provided the finances for the firearms? How did the arms find their way into the area? Are the security forces a party to this conspiracy? It is worthy of note that the Kaduna State Government did not give the police a pass mark in its duty to control the possession and use of firearms. These are questions the State and Federal Government Commissions of inquiry must address.
THE LATE ARRIVAL OF SOLDIERS AND THE INACTION OF THE KAFANCHAN POLICE:
We commend the security forces for intervening in Kaduna, Zaria, Ikara and other places before the rioters could wreck greater damage. However we wish to state that they failed woefully to intervene in Kafanchan, Zonkwa and Madakiya in good time and allowed the perpetrators to wreck havoc on lives and properties of the indigenous population. For over 48 hours, the rioters took over Kafanchan killing Christians and destroying their properties. They crowned it all with the razing down the Kafanchan main market before soldiers were brought in from Jos and Kaduna. Regrettably, the soldiers opened fire on innocent civilians who had come out in defense of themselves and their properties. Some were even killed in the Cathedral church of ST. Peter's Clever, Kafanchan.
The same soldiers spilled over and invaded the Kagoma Chiefdom where they threatened to shoot the Kpop Gwong and shot and wounded retired General Danjuma Dyeris who is still in hospital. The soldiers led by one Squadron Leader Musa did not leave until they killed two unarmed women and a youth and wounded about fifteen other villagers in Kagoma. This was a clear case of an unprovoked attack on a peaceful community that did nothing other than defending their community. Indeed, it has always been the trend that anywhere soldiers arrived late at a troubled scene they often turned their weaponry against the community that has braved the assault of the aggressor to defend itself.
Now that the sponsors and perpetrators of the violence have visited so much havoc on the people of Kaduna State particularly the Christians, their churches and properties, the following posers deserve to be asked.
- All said and done who actually lost and gained in the crisis?
- What have northern political leaders used their powers for during their over 20 years of control of the reins of power at the national level?
- Why is it that, it is the northern states that are educationally, industrially and agriculturally backward after fifty (50) years of independence? (see Daily Trust newspaper, May 6, 2011, p. 23).
- Why is it that the north is notorious for ethno-religious crisis? Who are the sponsors and beneficiaries of these crises?
5. Why is it that over forty (40) years after state creation, northerners are more divided on ethnic/religious lines? Who is tailoring the emergence of a ethno-religious master over Christians in the north and indeed Nigeria? Didn't we collectively condemn and fought colonialism and white supremacy in the form of apartheid?
6. Why is it that Hausa/Fulani in the north distrust and hate their northern Christians?
7. Why is the blood of Christians often that required for sacrifice in crisis times?
8. Why do we rejoice at the misfortune of others? What do we really gain in seeing our brothers and sisters seeking shelter in camps and barracks?
9. Who are the Almajiris that are often used to perpetrate violence? Where do they come from and who are their parents. Are they really Nigerians?
OUR POSITION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
SOKAPU therefore condemns in strong terms the unprovoked murder and maiming of innocent citizens and the massive burning of churches and properties of Christians in the State and other parts of northern Nigeria, particularly in Southern Kaduna.
We also deplore in unmistakable terms the killing, beating and harassment of National Youth Corps Members in Bauchi, Niger and other northern States in the name of venting post-election anger for alleged rigging. We thank President Jonathan for providing support to the parents of the corpers and pray he will do more.
Consequently, SOKAPU makes the following recommendations:
- That the Federal Government should convene, as a matter of urgency, a National Sovereign Conference to discuss and address fundamental issues concerning our co-existence as a nation within Nigeria e.g. the structure of Nigeria, zoning, religion, among others. It is clear that power sharing (zoning) should no longer be the preserve of political parties. It must assume a centre stage of our existence as a nation.
- That the Federal and Northern States governments should embark on massive industrial and agricultural development to engage our qualified and not so qualified youths productively.
- That a military base be established at Kafanchan without delay in order to protect the lives and properties of the people in that area.
- That education should be made compulsory and free at the primary and secondary school levels while the Federal and State governments should implement very rigidly their policies on education for the Almajiris and the Area Boys and their likes in other parts of Nigeria. The parents of these youths must be identified and sanctioned for their failure to live up to their parental responsibility. There must be a functional legislation against parents who specialize in breeding babies without a thought as to what it takes to bring them up in the fear of God. This is also a very important Human Rights issue.
- That the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must ensure that politicians, no matter their status, abide by their Code of Conduct and that Nigerians should feel free to belong to any political party of their choice and be free to choose their leaders.
- That for peace, progress and stability to exist and be sustained, Gurara State be created out of the present Kaduna State. The source of mistrust and acrimony is political power and the control of state resources where the politicians from the northern part have created the impression that they were born to rule and consequently always use Islam to wipe up sentiments against the Southern Kaduna people.
- That a Platform for Dialogue among northern minorities and the major tribes be established to discuss our differences including our religion, politics, culture, structure and the general interest of every ethnic nationality. There is no need to continue to fool or deceive ourselves that we are one AREWA when in reality, we are deeply divided and even scheme from time to time, to kill and destroy the properties of the Christians.
Note that the lives of the minorities in the north has been and still being threatened. The Hausa/Fulani are carrying out ethnic cleansing against the minorities in the north by constantly destroying their churches, properties and killing them.
We wish to congratulate President Goodluck Jonathan and Gov. Patrick Yakowa for the victory at the polls. We appreciation all the efforts they have collectively brought to bear in safeguarding lives and properties of Nigerian in the trouble spots. We feel fulfilled that they have both set up Investigation Committees that are to unearth the misery behind the violence that has caused Nigerian lives, injuries, homes and properties. The perpetrator must be made to bear the full weight of the law.
LEST WE FORGET
We wish to remind the perpetrators of the evil that befell us never to forget that we shall one day stand before our Maker to give account for our actions and inactions. We should never be under any illusions that our Creator who is merciful, compassionate, loving, kind and full of peace has a bountiful reward for evil doers; never should we think that we have a God who smiles in approval for our barbaric acts. At the end of it all we shall all be remembered by what we have done. Let me at this point invite all and sundry to heed the golden voice of sound reasoning of Sanusi Abubakar (Daily Trust newspaper, May 17, 2011, p. 56), when he said that: â€˜There are times after a fight when both sides need to stop and reflect so as to chart a way forward. These are such times and it would help if the antagonists would be more cautious in their utterances'.
LAST LINE: This violence has brought so much pain, agony, distrust, loss of productive man hour, destruction of lives and properties difficult to quantify in any terms. The aggressors and sponsors must not therefore be allowed to flex their muscles in celebration of their condemnable deeds. This is the task Nigerians are asking the investigation panels to undertake without fear or favour.
LIVE AND LET'S LIVE!
Long live Southern Kaduna! Long live Kaduna State! Long live Nigeria!
Prof. I.N.Nock (President)
Barr Bitrus Bahago (General Secretary)
SignedBarr. Timothy Bonet (PRO)