SOUTHERN Kaduna Peace Practitioners, SOKIPEP, a peace advocacy group in the area, has warned stakeholders against any inflammatory statements, advising that any action capable of jeopardizing the ongoing peace process must not be given attention.
KOKIPEP, in a statement Wednesday, by its National Coordinator, Rev. Dauda Fadia, said its appeal came against the backdrop of the statement credited to Southern Kaduna Peoples Union, SOKAPU, its umbrella body laying claims to some communities, local councils as well as dominance in population in Southern Kaduna.
A media statement released by SOKAPU following a meeting with its Central Executive Committee held with the Commander of OPSH in Jos, Plateau State at the weekend, had quoted it claiming that while Kaduna South is
up of only eight local government areas, Southern Kaduna is made up of 12 council areas and holds 51.2% of the population of Kaduna State.
The group which said its assertion was “based on the 2006 census population figures” also claimed that ” out of 46,000 Sq km, Southern Kaduna covers 26,000sqkm and has 57 registered ethnic nationalities, out of the 67 identified ones.”
“We told him (OPSH Commander) that 109 communities have been “captured” by Fulani militia. We insisted that there is an agenda to force us out of our lands and be occupied by the invaders,” the statement by the body through its National Public Relations Officer, Lukat Biniyat, had claimed.
But SOKIPEP, an indigenous Southern Kaduna peacebuilding organisation, in a statement by its National Coordinator, Rev. Dauda Fadia, picked hold in SOKAPU’s position, saying such was out of point, at the moment, given the fragile peace in the area.
It said while it appreciated its umbrella body for trying to go down history lane, such development could throw up ethnoreligious passion, thus drawing the ongoing peace process backward.
The full statement by SOKIPEP read: “Our attention has been drawn to a statement credited to Southern Kaduna Peoples Union, SOKAPU, our umbrella body in Southern Kaduna, in some national dailies and the social media, where it referred to itself as “indigenous owners of Southern Kaduna.”
“In the said statement, released after its Central Executive Committee meeting with the Commander of Operation Safe Haven in Jos, Plateau State at the weekend, SOKAPU reportedly laid claims not only to some communities and population figures in Kaduna State but also declared dominance in some council areas.
“We read the story imputing these claims with utter dismay and disappointment gave that as our umbrella body, SOKAPU should have known the better way to present our case during its meeting than trying to lay bare issues that could throw up public debates, thus inflame religious and ethnic passions, the resultant effect of which could be the frustration of the peace efforts being driven by the military and other stakeholders.
“As a body of Southern Kaduna indigenes actively involved in the peace process, we wish to state that in as much as we appreciate SOKAPU for not only taking that bold initiative to present some issues responsible for the crises in Southern Kaduna, we wish to unequivocally state without fear, favor or sentiment that these issues which we deem capable of drawing ethnic and religious attention were unnecessary.
“To state the obvious, the claims coming at a time the Nigerian Military and other organizations are already at its last stage of concluding the ongoing peacebuilding process it is spearheading is not only unwarranted but also unfortunate and counterproductive in the current peace efforts going on Southern Kaduna.
“We, therefore, call on all people of good conscience to ignore the said statement in its entirety as it did not get the endorsement of peace-loving and well-meaning southern Kaduna People.
“We also want to call on some people who may have political aspirations not to use our esteem platform SOKAPU as a vehicle for their ambition using the unfortunate crisis without minding the implications of their actions on the general wellbeing of peace-loving Southern Kaduna people.
” As professional peacebuilders, we feel this is not the time to throw blames and point accusing fingers but a time to begin the process of genuine forgiveness, reconciliation and resettlement of displaced people as well as a trauma healing process for victims of the unfortunate attack in our communities.
“As our umbrella body, we expect SOKAPU to lead the way for genuine peace rather than issuing such statement at this time that normalcy has begun to return to the area and peace process is ongoing.
“We understand that there are several issues at the background of this conflict but we appeal to people to bring them to the negotiation table rather than public media which may be misunderstood or misinterpreted and can cause serious breach of the fragile peace in Southern Kaduna.
“The life of our women, children, and everyone in Southern Kaduna must be put first into consideration before any other interest we have.
“Accusations and counter-accusations have not solved any problem in the past and will not do so in the future. At this point, we should be working closely with all arms of government and stakeholders to get a permanent solution to the conflicts so that people can return to their communities.
“Again, we wish to call on Governor Nasir El-Rufai to come to the aid of Southern Kaduna in terms of relief items as our people are in great pain.”