By Kabir Kajuru, Kaduna
Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El Rufai has denied paying herdsmen to halt killings in the southern part of the state.
Speaking at a news conference, Special Assistant to the Governor El-Rufai on Media and Publicity, Mr. Samuel Aruwan clarified that the governor never paid herdsmen money in order to either appease or arm them as widely reported in the media.
Senator representing Kaduna South Senatorial Zone, Danjuma La’ah had in a terse statement accused Governor of El-Rufai of paying Fulani for killing his constituents.
Aruwan who lamented the distortion of what the governor said in an interview with some journalists last week, said that ‘’government is combining security action with dialogue and peace-building efforts in southern Kaduna.’’
According to the governor’s spokesman, ‘’El-Rufai has continued what was admirable in the peace efforts of late Governor Patrick Yakowa, and would do whatever is legitimate to secure lasting peace in the area.’’
Aruwan pointed out that the late Yakowa tried to foster reconciliation with the affected Fulani communities, in order to stem the spiral of vengeance and reprisals.
According to him, ‘’Yakowa’s efforts were not sustained after his death and violence persisted. When it became our responsibility to provide security for the state, we re-established these contacts so that those who felt they lost in the 2011 violence could let bygones be bygones,’’ he explained.
Aruwan also pointed out that ‘’the quest for peace and the imperative of stemming human suffering requires leaders to explore conventional and unusual means to build peace. That is why the Kaduna State government is combining security action with dialogue and peace-building efforts in southern Kaduna.’’
The Governor’s Media aide further said that El Rufai built on Yakowa’s peace building efforts by setting up the General Martin Luther Agwai Peace and Reconciliation Committee to look into the crises in Southern Kaduna.
Aruwan said that the Agwai Committee report identified three categories of Fulanis that were affected by the 2011 Post Election Violence which was the root cause of the Southern Kaduna crises.
According to the Agwai Committee, the settled Fulani, the semi-settled Fulani and the transhumance Fulani, many of whom are the Bokolo from Chad, Niger, Cameroon, Senegal and Mali, lost lives and cattle in the violence.
Governor El-Rufai blamed Senator Danjuma La’ah who represents Southern Kaduna at the Upper Legislative Chambers, of playing to the gallery instead of playing his role as a leader.
The governor’s spokesman lamented that rather than help El Rufai in salvaging the situation, Senator La’ah is engaged in reckless grandstanding, whereby he simulates or manufactures reality and then summons a pretended outrage over his own confection.
‘’The Senator is responding to the mischievous headline published by his campaign spokesman, who moonlights as the Vanguard reporter in Kaduna. This reporter, who was not present during the governor’s recent media interview, wrote a story that was bereft of context and was laced with a dangerous headline,’’ Aruwan said.
According to him, ‘’the same interview detailed the governor’s observations about the disproportionate involvement of young Fulani men in crime, and his challenge to Fulani leaders to tackle the menace.’’
Meanwhile, Senator La’ah in a statement he personally signed copy of which was made available to newsmen in Kaduna read in part, “the outcome of Newspapers’ and online captions quoting Governor Nasir El-Rufai as saying that he has had to trace some of the murderous herdsmen that have been killing defenceless, innocent Southern Kaduna natives and destroying their villages. The news sources said that after tracing them, he told them that he was also a Fulani man and paid them sums of money to stop the massacre, burning and tearing down of scores of communities in Southern Kaduna.