Against the backdrop of the Ongoing Conflicts in Atyap Chiefdom of Zangon Kataf Local Government, Kaduna State, the Miyatti Allah Cattle Breeders Association Of Nigeria has enjoined the Southern Kaduna People’s Union, SOKAPU and other stakeholders to seek for ways of ensuring durable peace and social harmony among the people.
The Chairman of the Association, Alhaji Haruna Usman Tuga made the call in a statement made a available to newsmen, Friday in Kaduna.
He said the violent conflicts going on in many villages in Atyap Chiefdom of Zangon Kataf Local Government, based on the information available to the Association, emanated from the attack on a family by unknown bandits in Gora Gan village of the Chiefdom on 7th July 2021.
As is the characteristic of the misinformed youths who are indoctrinated to hate the Fulani pastoralists, went and carried out attack on cattle rearers followed the unfortunate event, he said.
Tuga further stated that while security agencies moved swiftly to contain the violence around Gora Gan and adjoining villages, there was mobilization of Atyap youths by some ethnic chauvinists among the Atyap ethnic community and other non-peace loving organizations that resulted in attacks on Fulani settlements throughout the Chiefdom.
“Within a few days, all the houses of the Fulani in the Chiefdom were burnt by mobs in broad daylight.
” In addition to the burning of settlements, an unconfirmed number of Fulani pastoralists were also killed. As a consequence, the surviving victims of the arson are now internally displaced and scattered around in neigbouring Local Governments of Kaura, Kauru, Lere, Jema’a and Kachia. Due to the nature of attacks and displacement of the Fulani people, we are yet to ascertain the total number of people killed, even though there are confirmed reports of the killing of 16 persons, mostly women and children. Over 300 houses belonging to the Fulani are reportedly burnt to ashes in the different villages for the Chiefdom.
“Not only our people and houses targeted, cattle belonging to the Fulani were not spared. There are reports of the killing of many cows, the numbers of which are yet to be determined because of the tense security situation in the area. Additionally, thousands of cows were abandoned by the fleeing cattle owners, which exposed the animals to threats of rustling.
“Unsubstantiated information available to us indicated that several groups of cattle rustlers have already invaded the areas to rustle the remaining cows, with reports of occasional clashes between the cattle rustling gangs.
“This is the situation at the moment in those affected areas. The Fulani pastoralists are at disarray, at the mercy of God, with no support from any quarters. Their means of livelihoods and habitation has been totally destroyed.
From the foregoing, Tuga emphasized, the Association found a Press Statement issued by the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) most surprising.
“We are shocked on the sources of their information, and for retorting to total blackmail against the victims of aggression. People whose households were completely burnt, who scampered to safety leaving behind all possessions could be accused of perpetuating violence.
The Association therefore urged the media and the general public to ignore the provocative and insensitive statements coming out from SOKAPU and other affiliated groups.
It also appealed to Media organizations to be impartial and to listen to all sides, visit the scenes across the divides and speak to people on all sides to provide Nigerians with accurate accounts of what is happening in the affected areas.
“What is most needed at this stage from SOKAPU and all other stakeholders is partnership and cooperation that will lead to durable peace and social harmony. There is need for collective action to deal with the challenges of insecurity, which also require strategic cooperation with the governments, traditional leaders and security establishments at all levels.
“We wish to clearly state that the Fulani pastoralists are equal victims of the atrocities of bandits who spare nobody. They are constantly rustling cows, kidnapping pastoralists and killing whenever they failed to pay ransoms as demanded by the bandits. Attacks on communities by bandits have nothing to do with Fulani pastoralists.
“We are using this platform to call on all the misguided youths across the divides, but particularly of the Atyap ethnic group to refrain from taking unilateral and violent actions by attacking Fulani pastoralists following every breach of security. Indeed, security agencies and other constituted authorities should be allowed to investigate every criminal action and attack on individuals and communities. We have seen how many of such investigations in the past found out that criminals within the same ethnic group were responsible for the crimes earlier thought to have been committed by Fulani pastoralists.
“We are appealing to the State and Local Government, the traditional leaders and all peace loving citizens in the State to initiate interventions that will restore the areas to the path of peace. Lot of social re-orientation programmes are needed to change the negative mindset of the youths in the areas.
“Organisations and individuals promoting hate speech, inciting the public, mobilizing youths towards violence and provide any form of support towards violence are strongly urged to stop that. The security agencies need to act fast to stop these organizations and individuals for durable peace and stability to be attained not only in Atyap Chiefdom, but the entire State.
“We are appealing to the Kaduna State Government as a matter of urgency to come over in to assist the victims of violence. They are living in very precarious situations and need humanitarian assistance especially food and shelter in the midst of the heavy rains.
“We are also appealing on the Government and security agencies, particularly Operation Safe Haven to assist in rescuing rustled cows of the pastoralists and evacuate others still trapped in many Atyap villages. Our organization is most willing to provide support in this process, especially in identifying the owners of the recovered animals. We are as well appreciating the security agencies efforts and rapid response during the incidences especially the military outfit of “OPERATION SAFE HEAVEN” for their untiring efforts in curbing the insecurity challenges in the area.
“We are commiserating with the families of those that their houses and properties were destroyed. In these times, we are appealing to them to be calm and to exercise maximum restrains. We assure them that our Association with explore means of ensuring justice for the wrongs done to them as provided for in the Laws and Constitution of the country.
Tuga assured the public that In due course, the Association will provide more accurate and authentic information relating to these disturbances and that the processes to generate the needed records and information that will guide for further actions had already been begun.