SOKAPU kicks against detention of 15 community leaders arrested for allegedly killing 706 cows

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The Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) has condemned the continuous detention without trial of 15 community leaders from Atyap Chiefdom, Zangon Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna state, accused of allegedly killing 706 cows and 75 sheeps belonging to fulani herdmen.
The spokesman of the Kaduna state police command, Muhammad Jalige, while confirming the arrests in a statement in Kaduna, said the community leaders were arrested in connection with the killing of 706 cows and 75 sheep which were dumped in a ditch.
Jalige said, “on 24 March, 2021 at about 1000hrs some herdsmen reported at Divisional Police Headquarters Zonkwa, Kaduna that some uncertain number of persons had attacked some of their herds; killing 706 cows and 75 sheep and dumped them in a ditch.
“On getting the complaint, operatives immediately swung into action, visit the scene of the incident, took necessary photographs and expand their investigation which led to the arrest of fifteen (15) suspects in connection with the barbaric act within the following villages; Mate, Unguwan Tabo, Unguwan Rohogu, Runji, Mashan, Mashan Daji and Wawan Rafi all of Atiyap chiefdom in Zangon Kataf LGA Kaduna state.”
However, in a statement in Kaduna, spokesman of SOKAPU, Mr. Luka Binniyat, said the community leaders, including an 85 year old man had been in detention for over two weeks without being charge to court.
According to the statement, the community leaders include, Atyoli Ishaya Achi (Dakachin Zonzon Community); Atyoli Joseph Bitrus (Secretary to Dakachin Wawarafi); Atyoli Bitrus Adamu (Village Head of Ma’wakili); Atyoli Samaila Kazah (Village Head of Unguwan Tabo) and Elder Waje Laah an 85 years old man from Mabuhu village, Atyoli Ayuba Dodo (Dakachin Mashan 1) and Peter Katung, a youth leader.
Binniyat said, “It is over 19 days today that 15 Atyap Community leaders in Atyap Chiefdom, Zangon Kataf Local Government Area in Southern part of Kaduna state have been detained without trial.
“Among them is a very sick 85 year old, 4 village heads and youth leaders.”
He said, “They were tricked to a meeting by military officers of ‘Operation Safe Haven’ on the 31st, March, 2021 at the Headquarters of military operations, close to Kafanchan, Jemaa LGA Kaduna state.”
According to Binniyat, “After spending four agonising days of torture in the hands of the military, they were later transferred to the Kafanchan Police Area Command.
“Again they suffered brutal detention in the hands of the police between 3rd to 9th April, 2021, and were never arraigned before any court of law.”
The statement said the leaders who were invited by the soldiers to find a solution to the incessant invasions, killings and arson of Atyap communities, were transferred to headquarters of the Kaduna State Police Command and were being detained at the Kabala West police Station, Kaduna.
“These men, who are now forcefully kept under unhygienic and inhuman conditions, have amongst them elderly persons that are sick and infirmed.
“The allegations against them, as SOKAPU was briefed by their lawyers, is that “they conspired, maimed and killed 75 cows,” (a figure that later changed to 300 cows) belonging to Fulani.
“Even at that, the offence of killing cows cannot equated to homicide. It is bailable as investigations go on.
But the Kaduna State Police Command, with Governor Nasir el-Rufai as the Chief-Security-Officer of the state, would not allow these men get bail.”
Binniyat maintained that in the past nine months, the Atyap ethnic nationality, has suffered severe destruction in property and has lost over 100 lives “in the hands of killers that surviving victims clearly defined as armed Fulani militia, some of them known faces that had lived in their communities before suddenly moving out.”
The statement maintained further that, “There is no month since July 2020 that an Atyap Community is not under the invasion of armed Fulani militia, even as the Atyap traditional leadership has made several overtures to the Hausa and Fulani settlers on its land for the violence to stop. This is a gesture that even Governor el-Rufai acknowledges.”
He said on several occasions, SOKAPU had reported the destruction of hundreds of hectares of Atyap farm crops by fulani herdsmen but the authorities always turned a blind eye to it.
“If anyone deserves justice and compensation in the violence that came over Atyap land, like in other parts of Southern Kaduna, it is the Atyap people”, Binniyat said.
The statement said, “While, SOKAPU does not in any way support lawlessness in any form, we however take exception when the law is only directed at the victims
“We are therefore calling for the immediate release of these men to ease off the tension building up in Atyap land and among its neighbours.
“They should be given bail by the police or charged to court so that they can apply for bail.”
SOKAPU also appealed to Atyap youths and those of their neighbours to remain calm, obey the law while keeping vigilant over their communities.

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