El-Rufai denies alleged ethnic cleansing in Southern Kaduna killings
By Isa Kajuru, Kaduna
Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El Rufai has said that the killings in the southern parts of the state by suspected herdsmen is pure criminality and has nothing to do with ethnicity and religion.
Speaking to news in Kaduna on Tuesday, he faulted a statement credited to the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev Supo Ayokunle, who had earlier described the attacks as religious cleansing.
El-Rufai pointed out that, ‘’the same Fulani are killing Fulani in hundreds in Zamfara state. It has nothing to do with religion or ethnicity. It is pure banditry.’’
According to the governor, the perpetrators of the attacks in both Southern Kaduna and Zamfara state are just criminals, adding that, ‘’their ethnicity and religion do not matter.’’
El Rufai pleaded with leaders to be mindful of their utterances and to stop encouraging their people to resort to self-help. ‘’Lets fight the problem; lets not bring sentiments, sensationalism and division into it,’’ he added.
The governor narrated the steps that his administration had taken in order to understand the root cause of the killings in Southern Kaduna, beginning with the setting up of the retired General Martin Luther Agwai Committee.
He said that the committee found out that the killings in the area was rooted in the 2011 Post Election Violence, where Fulani from Cameroun and Niger republic were killed in Southern Kaduna while they were returning to their countries.
‘’They organized themselves and came back for revenge,’’ El-Rufai said, adding that ‘’a lot of what was happening in Southern Kaduna and Plateau State is actually from outside Nigeria.’’
El-Rufai said that Governor Patrick Yakowa had sent emissaries to some of these Fulani communities in neighboring countries in order to make peace ‘’but after his death, the whole thing stopped.’’
He further said that his administration continued from where Yakowa stopped, by sending some people to go round these countries to explain to the Fulanis that ‘’there is a new governor. He is also Fulani like you and he has no problem paying compensation for loss of lives and livestock. But he is begging you to stop the killings.’’
According to the governor, most of the communities forgave the killing of their relatives during the Post Election Violence, after hearing this explanation.
‘’There were one or two that asked for monetary compensation for cattle. They said that they had forgiven the deaths of human beings but they should be compensated for their lost cattle. We said no problem and we paid,’’ he added.
The governor said that there was peace when these steps were taken ‘’but what is happening now, I don’t want to restrict it to Southern Kaduna, is a case of pure banditry.’’
According to the Governor, these renewed killings have nothing to do with the fall- outs of the post election violence. ‘’It was a small problem that started in Ninte, Godogodo, that could have been handled better by both the Fulani and community leaders,’’ he said.
El-Rufai further said that the killings in Kaura was triggered off when youths attacked a police station and killed the very Fulani man who had reported his brother to the police for suspected criminal activities.
While appealing for restraint on both sides, he said that as governor of Kaduna state, ‘’I am very sad over the loss of life because the burden is on me. Iam supposed to defend everyone. We regret the loss of lives and property.’’