The Kaduna State Council of Chiefs and Emirs has condemned the cycle of killings and reprisals in parts of southern Kaduna as senseless and inhuman.
The council also appealed to security agencies and government at all levels to urgently tackle hate speech, divisive rhetoric and incitement.
The chairman of the council and Emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Shehu Idris, stated this when he led council members on a solidarity visit to Governor Nasir El-Rufai at Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, Kaduna.
“The reason why all traditional leaders pay His Excellency this courtesy visit is to condole with the government over the recent loss of lives in Southern Kaduna. Killings and counter killings are senseless and ungodly; they are not solution to any problem. It is quite disheartening and worrisome.
“We must work hard against these threats to our peace and unity. We are also here to commiserate with His Excellency on the attack of his convoy when he visited Kafanchan.
“We have to carry out our duties, we shouldn’t leave Kaduna State Government with the responsibility of security alone as it was said one tree cannot make a forest. The governor and his deputy alone cannot provide security in the state; we have to put all hands on deck. We should continue to pray in our mosques and churches for peace to reign in our state and the nation at large.”
In his response, Governor El-Rufai said:
“Your Highnesses, the unfortunate attack is not something to talk about because I am not the first governor to receive this kind of treatment, every governor in the last 15 years in this state has been treated that way and it is part of the challenges and burden of leadership. So I am not disturbed.
“As you know leaders especially in any political dispensation must learn to tolerate a lot of things because you have those who like you and those who oppose you because of political differences. That is why I did not take this personal but what we will do is prosecute all those responsible for the killings. And we are working hard with security agencies to ensure our citizens are safe and secure.
“The biggest assignment is for us to unite our people. We should do our best to see that we have peace and unity as a prerequisite for progress and development. Besides security challenges, we are faced with poor infrastructure, poor social amenities, poor schools, bad roads, lack of power and potable water and that is what this government is working to provide for the people. We have cut down the gains and monetary profits people get in government just to be able to provide democratic dividends to the people. In your domains, you can see on-going projects at various stages of completion.
“We are also committed to demonstrating fairness and equity in the way we execute projects all over the state. I and my deputy and all those who work under this administration, have taken oaths with either the Quran or the Bible that we will be fair and just in our affairs. I am giving you my promise that we will be guided by this oath in all our dealings.”
On the issue of Southern Kaduna, he stated that three measures would be put in place:
“I have met the Chief of Army Staff and he has approved the establishment of two battalions in Sothern Kaduna; one in Kafanchan and the other one in Kachia. I thought the one in Kachia will be sited elsewhere because of the presence of both the Nigerian Army and Navy Schools but I know the military has a reason of putting it in Kachia.
“Kaduna state government is looking for a temporary place in Kafanchan to provide the army a temporary settlement before a barrack will be constructed for them. We are starting with Kafanchan, then that of Kachia will follow. We hope that this will douse the fear in the mind of people and that the military presence will build confidence and we hope that their presence will help in confronting the attackers, especially with the added surveillance aircraft.
“We also know that this is a harvest period for farmers so we are asking the traditional rulers and community leaders to arrange with security operatives to plan how soldiers and police drafted in these areas will provide cover for farmers to go and harvest their crops.
“The second measure is that those involved in attacking and killing people and those behind the violence are being tracked and we have with the arrests of some who will be prosecuted. In our opinion, it is a big issue because this issue is largely an issue of impunity.
“The third measure is that we have to go back to the dialogue and reconciliation efforts we have started in the past. We have Center for Humanitarian Dialogue that has been working in southern Kaduna in the past two years. They have done similar work in Jos in reconciling the conflicting communities in Plateau and when they completed that assignment we invited them to come to Southern Kaduna. They facilitated the signing of Kafanchan Declaration in April 2016.
“These are some of the measures we are taking but our doors remain open for anyone that has a recommendation or any advice for us on how to tackle these challenges. Our royal highnesses, I want to let you know that drafting security men alone will not give us the desired peace we want, except people are ready to tolerate and embrace one another, as well as choosing the path of forgiveness and unity.”