Following continued attacks by alleged Fulani Herdsmen in the Southern part of Kaduna State despite a peace declaration by the state Governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), has accused the State government of inflaming the current spates killings in the area.They also refer to the peace deal as political because, according to them the Christian communities were not carried along, describing his 100 million pledge for rebuilding Churches and Mosques as “a misplaced priority”.
Speaking on behalf of an assembly of 19 District Church Council (DCC), Fellowship ECWA, Kaduna State, at a World Press Conference on Wednesday, Tagged ‘The Persecution of the Church in Kaduna State, Reverend Zachariah Gado, fingered the pronouncement of grazing reserves on Southern Kaduna as motivation for Herdsmen to continue their onslaught on the people.
“We are worried that about the assertion by both the Kaduna State government and many Fulani groups that 20,000 hectares of land is earmarked for the exclusive use of Fulani’s as grazing reserves in Sanga Local Government Area (LGA), in addition to lands that have already been seized by violence.
“We have come to the unfortunate conclusion that the announced intention of the Kaduna State Government to re-create existing cattle grazing reserves in Southern serves as a major motivation for the renewed ethno-religious violence and cleansing currently being visited on Southern Kaduna communities.
“There has been increasing indications of the existence of a desperate, well funded, organised and executed campaign not only to make life unbearable for the entire Southern Kaduna territory through threats, intimidation and psychological warfare, but also to occupy the land through what can only be described as ethno-religious cleansing by Fulani Herdsmen millitia.”
“This campaign has been devastating. The Attakad Community Development Association, has confirmed that at least 180 people have been killed in Attakad Chiefdom, Kaura LGA, since 2013 and 10,000 persons displaced.
While we have always suspected a quest for territorial acquisition motivated the Fulani attacks , the press conference organised by Jema’a Foundation, Miyetti Allah and Mobgal Fulbe Development Association on 7 November 2016 confirmed that Fulani and Hausa Muslims have been behind the ethnic cleansing and destruction of villages and houses of worship. They claimed they had to do this to entrench their rights to practice Islam, alleging they were being marginalized in Southern Kaduna.
“To further buttress the assertion that there is an orchestrated plan to drive our members and other indigenes out of these parts of Southern Kaduna, it appears that the next stage will involve the full take over, Godogodo Chiefdom, in Jema’a LGA. Part of Godogodo town, Ninte, Akwa, Ungwar Anjo, Gada Biyu have been overrun and occupied by the Fulani. Churches in these villages are laid to waste after being burnt.
“It is deeply shocking that in the 21 Century, not only are Fulani militia carrying out a campaign of forced displacement and occupation reminiscent of previous centuries , but also that this is occurring so blatantly under the full gaze of a succession of modern, democratically elected governments.”
He explained that a total of 30 people had been killed; 27,819 had been displaced; 326 were injured, and 326 homes were burnt and six ECWA churches and a Baptist Church were burnt and that the value of property destroyed and looted runs into billions of Naira.
“In Summary, since the latest onslaught on Southern Kaduna began, according to our documented evidence and other reports, at least 138 persons have been killed, most of them women and children, and about 1,300 homes and churches have been razed.
“As preachers of the Word of the Living God, we follow the practical teachings of Christ, who abhors violence in any form. We are forever for peace, brotherliness and everything that will advance reconciliation and the wellbeing of humanity.
“While we stand in unity with every Fulani, Hausa and Muslim groups that seeks peace, unity, justice and development, we can no longer maintain silence in the face of unabated illegality, violence and the wasting of innocent lives.
“We are aware that the Kaduna State Government, through the Nigeria Police and Nigeria Army, is currently arresting our members, including Royal Fathers, on trumped up charges while the Fulani who have publicly taken responsibility for this carnage are walking free. We therefore request that Abdullahi Hassan Mohammed, Ahmad M. Yandeh and Abdulhamid Musa, be arrested and be made to produce those who are behind this grim sin against man and God. Failure to do so would be a clear indication that the Kaduna State Government has taken sides in this matter.
“We also acknowledge the gesture of Kaduna state governor in offering N100 million for the rebuilding of churches and mosques in Southern Kaduna destroyed through violence, we wonder who would be worshiping in these churches, since most of the worshippers have fled for safety or do not even have homes anymore to live in.
The clergy, however appealed to the Kaduna State Government, saying “in the interests of justice, peace and security, to respect the wishes of the electorate of Southern Kaduna and their elected representatives and stop the creation of grazing reserves in the area, especially since this is tantamount to rewarding perpetrators of murder, arson and destruction for their crimes.
“As perpetrators continue to evade consequences for their illegal and violent actions, impunity and lawless are becoming entrenched, to the detriment of the entire state. We therefore call on the State and Federal governments to restore all occupied areas to their rightful owners. Failure to do so will not only encourage further lawlessness; it may also eventually compel the owners of these villages to resort to forceful means to recover their ancestral and only God given lands.
“We appeal for compensation for affected persons, and for relief materials to be provided to the displaced.
“We also appeal to the Federal Government to locate an Army Barracks near the affected areas in order to deter such killings in the future.
“Finally, we urge state and federal authorities to uphold the rule of law and the primacy of the national constitution by securing the return of all abducted female minors who have been married illegally, and to combat impunity by ensuring that anyone involved in this appalling violation of the rights of young girls is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”