By Akanimo Sampson
Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) appears to be scaling up peace efforts in the bleeding southern axis of the troubled Kaduna State.
But, its fire-fighting approach seems to be stoking the fire rather than quenching it. Miyetti Allah in a Saturday statement was busy pointing an accusing finger at a group, while presenting itself as a peace-maker.
‘’The Hausa and Fulani communities remained calm and law abiding but to our greatest surprise, some of those suspected Atyap (Kataf) criminals refused to respect the agreement that was reached and continued with their unprovoked attacks on the unsuspecting and innocent Fulani herdsmen’’, Miyetti Allah says.
Adding, MACBAN’s Director, Media and Publicity in Kaduna State, Bayero Zango, said ‘’we are appealing to the perpetrators of these attacks to, in the interest peace, refrain from these breaches of the peace accord that was reached by respect their leaders and parents who are working day and night to restore peace, law and order in the area.’’
The statement says MACBAN is urging its members not to take law into their hands by retaliating the recent attacks in some parts of Southern Kaduna in which three of its members were allegedly killed.
Before now, Nigeria Researcher with the Africa Division of Human Rights Watch, Anietie Ewang, said recent wave of deadly attacks in the southern part of Nigeria’s restive Kaduna State has brought the seemingly never-ending cycle of communal violence and impunity in the state back into focus.
Prior to joining Human Rights Watch, she worked as a Senior Staff Attorney at the Social and Economic Rights Action Center (SERAC) Nigeria.
Anietie has also worked at the Initiative for Social Economic Rights (ISER), Uganda and the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Justice. She volunteers with local women’s groups to promote economic empowerment for indigent women in Nigeria.
She holds an LLM in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa from the University of Pretoria, South Africa. She was also a visiting scholar at Columbia University and a research scholar at Makerere University, Uganda.
The media however, reported that gunmen killed at least 43 people between July 21 and 24, and that 178 people were killed in the past seven months across southern Kaduna communities.
‘’The police haven’t commented on the identity of the perpetrators or the motivations behind the attacks. The state governor claimed the recent attacks were carried out by armed bandits terrorising Nigeria’s North-West states, but media reports included witnesses attributing blame to a militia targeting southern Kaduna communities on ethnic grounds’’, the global rights group says.
Kaduna State straddles the country’s ethnic and religious divide. Northern Kaduna’s population is largely Muslim and Hausa-Fulani, while southern Kaduna is predominantly Christian and home to some 30 ethnic groups.
Relations between the Hausa-Fulani and communities in southern Kaduna have long been tense, stemming predominantly from competition over resources, including land, and political control.
These tensions have often led to deadly ethnic and sectarian violence.
A July 21 statement by the Federal Government said the recent attacks in southern Kaduna were a result of politically motivated banditry, revenge killings, and mutual violence by criminal gangs acting on ethnic and religious grounds.
In a 2013 report, Human Rights Watch examined major incidents of sectarian and inter-communal violence which had killed thousands in northern, southern, and central Kaduna between 1987 and 2013.
In some cases of mass violence, the police were absent or took few or no steps to contain it. Perpetrators were rarely brought to justice. The resulting cycles of impunity produced more attacks and reprisal attacks.
The recent attacks led to an outcry against the failure of the authorities to take necessary steps to protect communities and deter violence, including a protest by women calling for justice.
The Kaduna State Government has imposed a 24-hour curfew in parts of southern Kaduna and the police said they will work with the military and other security actors to ensure citizens’ safety.
The cycle of killings in Kaduna state is not inevitable. ‘’To end murders, the authorities should ensure full criminal investigations, provide justice and redress for the victims and their families, and ensure citizens are protected. Authorities should also prevent their own forces from causing further harm’’, Human Rights Watch says.
In the mean time, MACBAN is cautioning those it refers to as “criminal elements to desist” from their actions, claiming, ‘’we condemn these unprovoked attacks by those Atyap criminal elements who are hell bent on sabotaging the peace processes in the area.
“All these attacks happened after the peace treaty was reached and signed by all the warring tribes of Hausa, Fulani and Atyap (Kataf) in a one-day summit on peace and reconciliation organised by the paramount traditional ruler of the chiefdom, Sir Dominic Gambo Yahaya on August 22, 2020.
“We are calling on the security agencies and Kaduna State government to ensure that the perpetrators of these attacks are brought to book accordingly.
“We are appealing to our Fulani pastoralists to continue living in peace and be reporting any suspicious movement they may see to security agencies, as well as give maximum cooperation in order to restore lasting peace to the area.’’