Full Text of Press Conference by Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU), held at its National Secretariat, Kaduna, on April, 20, 2023.
Gentlemen of the Press,
We are constrained to address you today on the pressing issue of the security situation affecting our people in Southern Kaduna.
You are all witnesses to the wanton cruelty being visited on our communities by bands of murderous armed herdsmen in the recent past for which no single arrest has been made.
Last Sunday, 16th April, 2023, the peaceful, farming Runji village (Sankwab) in Atyap land Zangon Kataf LGA in Southern Kaduna, was invaded by marauding armed herdsmen around 1am in which they carried out horrific acts of murder, arson and theft. After operating for hours, brave youths of the town joined by others from neighboring villages teamed up and faced the invaders who then retreated into the night. By day break, 42 houses were burnt with 17 women and children roasted beyond recognition.
Twelve corpses mutilated by machete cuts and bullet shots were picked in and around the village.
Later in the day, four persons that were rushed to hospitals, died of their wounds, making the death toll 33 and those still in hospitals, eight.
The victims were buried in a mass grave on the eastern edge of the village. Southern Kaduna is dotted by numerous mass graves of such kind of victims.
As usual, the Kaduna State Government and the Federal Government have not visited the place nor send any form of assistance to the scores that have been rendered homeless.
Recall that on March 16th, 2023, invading armed herdsmen attacked homes in Langson, also in Atyap land using machetes and knives and killed 10 natives around 9pm.
Also, on 13th March, 2023, armed herdsmen killed 8 persons in Atakjeh, close to the palace of the traditional rulers of Atyap land.
On the 12th March, in a shocking mass murder, armed herdsmen attacked Unguwan Wakili, less than 800m from a military checkpoint and killed 17 persons, mostly women and children. Unguwan Wakili is in Atyap land, about 2km to Zangon Kataf semi-urban area notorious for harboring armed herdsmen.
In all, within one month, 68 persons have been killed in Atyap land, leaving 15 with life threatening injuries. These attacks have created streams of displaced persons fleeing for safety.
In the past 6 years, about 63 Atyap communities have been attacked, hundreds of homes burnt and hundreds of natives killed by pillaging armed herdsmen.
Not a single Fulani is facing prosecution for these crimes. Ironically, scores of Atyap leaders have been arrested and put in jail over trumped up charges in the violence in which they are the victims.
So far, there has been an apparent failure or refusal by the Kaduna State government under Mallam Nasir el-Rufai and the Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government to apprehend and prosecute the killers.
We interprete this as a clear indication of their complicity in the genocide in various parts of Southern Kaduna.
This belief is reinforced by the fact that survivors are usually left to die of their wounds or other forms of suffering as no relieve is sent to them.
Again, to show that the Fulani militia have the backing of especially Kaduna State government, anytime a Fulani cow gets lost or any Fulani is harmed by suspected Southern natives, the entire area where the incident is suspected to have happened is raided by combat happy security personnel.
This usually culminates in youths and community leaders being taken to police detention or prison custody.
Apart from the deadly invasions, the daily kidnapping of persons and unscheduled blocking of highways by terrorists in Southern Kaduna has not stopped. Most of these now go unreported because of their frequency and the remoteness of locations.
Now, only mass abductions or cases involving notable individuals are reported.
In one such recent reported case on 4rd April, 2023, armed terrorists invaded Government Secondary School Awon, Kachia LGA in Southern Kaduna and kidnapped 10 students in broad daylight, 8 of them school girls. Instead of pursuing and apprehending the terrorists, all Kaduna state government does is to announce and document the occurrence of such crimes carried out just to wait for the next one.
After 15 harrowing days in the jungle in the hands of their captors, we have been informed that the girls have managed to escape and are now in the custody of the government.
We are indeed happy about this development and we praise God for his grace. We salute the valour and courage of our children. We hope the Kaduna state government would give them all necessary assistance and rehabilitation before releasing them to the loving arms of their families.
In yet another dimension of the callous savagery being unleashed on our people, numerous farm lands with ripe crops are often consumed by Fulani herds in a show of impunity.
Those who dared to challenge such brazen acts of cruelty met instant death or escaped by the whiskers from the hands of the untouchable herders. Both the herdsmen and their cattle have become sacred cows in Southern Kaduna.
In fact, it is on social media now that the Fulani militia have sent out warning, that some communities in southern Kaduna should not bother going to farm in the coming rainy season, as doing so will only amount to producing fodder for their cattle.
As it stands now, no fewer than 245 Southern Kaduna Communities have been sacked by these armed herdsmen in collaboration with terrorists.
If the size of these captured areas is added to Birnin Gwari and adjoining areas, these outlaws have taken around 6000sq.km of Kaduna State land which is bigger than the size of Imo State.
These are the ungoverned spaces where most kidnapped victims are kept and ransom taken to. Southern Kaduna is 26,000sq.km in land size.
With a few weeks to the end of this administration, the attacks only seem to be stepping up. And the fact that the same government wants to succeed itself at both the state and Federal levels, we have great doubts if the genocide, kidnapping, displacement and occupation will abate.
On these notes we are seriously concerned about the curious silence of Amnesty International (AI) on the pogrom going on Southern Kaduna.
We are also very sad about the silence of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Africa Union (AU), the CommonWealth of Nations and the United Nations (UN) over the unrelenting pogrom in Southern Kaduna.
SOKAPU is calling on these continental and global bodies to send independent investigation teams to Southern Kaduna to debunk or confirm our claims of ethnic cleansing here.
Before then, we advocate for a UN or AU Peace Enforcement Operations Base in Southern Kaduna. This will practicality demonstrate that the world is interested in our collective survival as minority ethnic groups.
It must not abandon us to be hounded by well funded and well-armed herdsmen who are being encouraged and protected by their powerful kinsmen and collaborators in and outside Nigeria.
At this juncture, we will like to thank all the good spirited persons, groups and NGOs in and out of Nigeria that have assisted in various ways. We plead that they should not relent on their kindness as indeed our woes are not over.
Thank you very much, gentlemen for your time.
Signed: Mr. Awemi Dio Maisamari