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Payment for Herdsmen:  You are not Conversant With Southern Kaduna Realities, El-rufai Replies Senator La’ah

Kaduna state governor Malam Nasir El-rufai, has said that the Senator representing Southern Kaduna Senatorial Zone is not conversant with the realities in the area

The governor in a reply through his special assistant on media and publicity, Samuel Aruwan, on Wednesday at a press breifing accused the Senator of falsehood on issues concerning security in the area.

The text read in full:

Stop playing to the gallery, El-Rufai tells La’ah

Danjuma La’ah, the senator representing the southern Kaduna senatorial district, appears to believe that leadership is about playing to the gallery. As the governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir El-Rufai does not have such luxury. The quest for peace and the imperative of stemming human suffering requires leaders to explore conventional and out-of-the-box means to build peace. That is why the Kaduna State government is combining security action with dialogue and peace-building efforts in southern Kaduna. Malam El-Rufai has continued what was admirable in the peace efforts of late Governor, Sir Patrick Yakowa, and would do whatever is legitimate to secure lasting peace in the area.

Rather than support this, Senator Danjuma La’ah is engaged in reckless astroturfing, where you simulate or manufacture reality and then summon a pretend outrage over your own confection. The Senator is responding to the mischievous headline published by his campaign spokesman Luka Binniyat, 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. This is pathetic, given the suffering of innocents and the immense effort the state government is making for peace. 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.

On 29th May 2015, Malam El-Rufai took the oath to defend and protect the Nigerian constitution and to treat every resident of the state without fear or favour. That same day, there were killings in southern Kaduna. Therefore, his first action as governor was to summon a security council meeting to address insecurity in southern Kaduna, alongside the activities of criminal gangs in the Birnin-Gwari axis.

On southern Kaduna, the government constituted a committee, chaired by General Martin Luther Agwai, an illustrious son of Kaduna State, to investigate and come up with solutions to the security challenges in the area. The necessity of peace-building, to heal the wounds created by violence that accompanied the 2011 elections was obvious. When the committee submitted its report, the government considered it together with the report of the committee that late Governor Patrick Yakowa set up after the 2011 violence. 

The trans-border nature of nomadic herders was confirmed in the reports submitted, which vindicated Governor Yakowa’s work to foster reconciliation with the affected Fulani communities, to stem the spiral of vengeance and reprisals. All the people that Sir Yakowa engaged in this mission are also involved in the current initiative.

In its findings, the Martin Agwai Committee stated that:

1. “The Fulani nomads are in three categories: the settled Fulani, the semi-settled Fulani and the transhumance Fulani. Many of the transhumance Fulani are the Bokolo from Chad, Niger, Cameroon, Senegal and Mali.

2. “The three categories of Fulani were affected by the April 2011 post-presidential election crisis during which many lives were lost and properties destroyed. The month of April marks the beginning of the rainy season in Southern Kaduna and Central Nigeria and, therefore, the transhumance Fulani were in transit back to the Northeast, Northwest, Chad, Niger, Cameroon, as well as Senegal and Mali.

The General Martin Agwai Committee also found that the then government had in December 2014 warned communities “that instead of accosting heavily armed Fulani herdsmen, they should immediately be reported to security authorities to avoid deadly consequences”.

The above facts give the lie to the senator’s claim that no Fulani from other countries were killed in southern Kaduna in 2011 with their cattle. And it shows that the warning against self-help is not recent.

Any fair-minded observer can assess the toll of lives lost in repeated attacks in the area between 2011 and 2015. Governor 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.

In a recent interview with reporters in Kaduna, Malam El-Rufai narrated what the state government was doing for peace in southern Kaduna. The governor mentioned how he resuscitated Sir Patrick Yakowa’s outreach, persuaded aggrieved Fulanis to forgive and responded to their pleas for compensation for loss of cattle. These efforts ensured that a period of peace returned to the area, and closed the chapter on 2011.

Malam El-Rufai also mentioned that the recent violence in the area has nothing to do with 2011, but are acts of banditry and fallouts of small events in Ninte that were not properly managed. Government has committed more security forces to the area. But sustained peace requires dialogue between communities and the avoidance of self-help. 

Any responsible leader in the area will know that the acts of wanton violence that have killed many people involve misguided efforts at so-called self-defence, which is in reality aggression against defenceless persons. No government will allow people to bypass the law enforcement agencies and resort to self-help. Anarchy cannot address banditry; it is strange that the senator does not know that. Suffice to say, that the Kaduna State Government warns everyone against self-help, or involvement in vengeance, reprisals and vendetta and any form of hate speech.

The governor has led serious and abiding efforts for peace and security in every part of the state, including southern Kaduna. He has invested in increased security and requested for an expanded military garrison in the area. Recently, he moved the entire state security council to southern Kaduna shortly after the Godogodo attack, consoling the affected, consulting with communities and coordinating efforts to prevent a recurrence. At different times, he and the Deputy-Governor have visited Chawai in Kauru, where he publicly asked a Fulani man named by the locals to turn himself in to the authorities. He summoned southern Kaduna traditional rulers, Fulani ardos and security agencies to Kaduna to further cement an integrated approach to security and obtain updates from the grassroots. 

In addition, the government is fully supportive of a process of dialogue for peace between communities, with the able facilitation of international mediators. This model is working in Plateau State, and the government desires similar success in restoring peace in southern Kaduna.

We need not say much about Senator La’ah’s unfortunate remarks when we joined 29 communities to unveil their peace apology billboard in Samaru-Kataf. Da Jacob Gyang, the Gbong-Gwom Jos, gave him a royal rebuke. The senator’s statement indicates that he declined the enlightenment. All the people who live in southern Kaduna, regardless of their ethnic or religious origin, have a right to live there; in addition they have a collective duty to uphold peace and harmony.

Does Senator La’ah think the peace in the Jos area is just happenstance? Does he understand the efforts that Berom and Fulani communities invested in dialogue, supported by elected leaders and traditional rulers, to achieve the sort of mutual understanding that is restoring peace to the Jos area? We invited the Gbong-Gwom to southern Kaduna to bear testimony to the effectiveness of dialogue for peace. We thank him for his eloquent exhortation for peace.

We will continue the work of peace-building in southern Kaduna. If he wants to be taken seriously, Senator La’ah would have to show it. That will save him from the embarrassment he brought on himself during the ministerial screening last year. Recall the senator’s vociferous protest at the purported nomination of Amina Mohammed as the minister from Kaduna. Without any research, he stood on the flimsy foundation of hearsay to make a totally baseless and false claim. 

Danjuma La’ah has now reproduced this erratic conduct with his false claims. If he was truly interested in peace, he would have mastered the Martin Agwai report and the White Paper on it. His reaction clearly demonstrates that he is not as conversant with southern Kaduna realities as he would profess.

The Kaduna State Government invites him and others to genuinely support peace and stop these dangerous dramas and irresponsible calls.

Samuel Aruwan

Special Assistant, Media and Publicity

07 December 2016

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