Muslim scholars, under the aegis of the Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria, SCSN, have called for the implementation of the white paper issued on the bloody Zango-Kataf bloody crisis in Southern Kaduna in 1992.
According to the scholars, implementation of the white paper would bring to an end the persistent crisis and killings in the area.
The 1992 crisis led to the sentencing of former Military Governor of Rivers State, General Zamani Lekwot, retd, and five other indigenes of Kaduna.
President of Southern Kaduna People’s Union, SOKAPU, Hon. Jonathan Asake, whose reaction on the matter was sought, however, told journalists on inquiry that he could not comment on it without seeing the text of the Muslim clerics’ press briefing.
But Kaduna State chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, in a swift reaction, described the Muslim scholars, operating under the aegis of Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria, SCSN, as old men who have lost their memories.
This came as Defence Headquarters yesterday announced the deployment of special forces to Southern Kaduna to nip in the bud the incessant killings in the area.
Meanwhile, the Multinational Joint Task Force, MNJTF, has raised the alarm that the Boko Haram terrorist group has introduced the use of child soldiers to resuscitate its declining influence in the Lake Chad Basin.
‘Solutions needed to the killings’
However, the Muslim scholars, who spoke at a briefing in Kaduna yesterday, said they had taken stock of the loss of lives and property in the killings in Southern Kaduna within the past few months, insisting that solutions must be found to the carnage.
Secretary of the SCSN, AbdurRahman Hassan, who spoke for the group, said those sentenced to death but were pardoned by the military administration of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and General Sani Abacha respectively, should be dealt with in the current dispensation to allow peace to reign.
According to him, doing so is the only way peace will return to Southern Kaduna.
He said: “Recall that the 1992 incident occurred during the General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida’s regime, which set up a tribunal, headed by the late Justice Pius Okadigbo to try Maj-Gen. Zamani Lekwot, retd, the late Major James Atomic Kude, retd, and other Kataf indigenes on allegation of culpable homicide.
“Justice Okadigbo later sentenced Lekwot, Kude, Yohanna Karau Kibori, Marcus Mamman, Yahaya Duniya and Julius Sarki Zaman Dabo to death by hanging over complicity in the crisis.
“But Lekwot and others sentenced to death were granted state pardon by the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, on the assumption of office.
“Till now, Zonkwa is still a ghost town. Surprisingly, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Southern Kaduna People’s Union, SOKAPU, and their allies had never cried foul in the massacre of innocent law-abiding citizens, on account of their faith.
“Many more ethnoreligious crises continued to occur in Kasuwan Magani, Kajuru, Zangon Kataf, and some other places. After every crisis, a commission of inquiry will be set up a report, recommendations will be submitted to the government of the day to no avail.
“For instance, late Justice Pius Okadigbo’s tribunal on the Zangon-Kataf crises found Retd. Gen. Zamani Lekwot and others guilty of the massacre that took place there and was sentenced to death, but they were later pardoned.
“That was what opened the floodgate of violence, mayhem, upheavals and total breakdown of law and order in that axis, which is ravaging the area till today, because some people felt they are above the law.
“The Council has been saying persistently that all those found guilty in these crimes against humanity must face the wrath of the law.
“In a suit filed by the Muslim Communities of Southern Zaria on the mass killing of Muslims during the post-election crises of 2011 at the ECOWAS Court, presided over by Hon. Justice Gberi-Be Qattara on March 20, 2020, the court in its ruling passed the judgment and declared, among, other things thus: ‘The respondent to effectively hold accountable the individuals responsible for the mass killing in Kaduna State, and complete their prosecution within a reasonable time.’
“Our belief is that the Kaduna State Government is only trying to abide by the court order, which did not go down well with SOKAPU and CAN, perhaps because of their role in the crises, hence the recent upheaval in Zangon Kataf in which some Fulani herdsmen were killed and their Rugas burnt by the Katafs’ Christian militia.
“This was exactly what triggered the recent reprisal attacks we are witnessing today. This unfortunate situation would have been avoided, had it been the past Kaduna
State governments had taken the right steps being taken by the current administration in implementing the recommendations of successive white papers.
“However, the only way peace could be achieved in any case is through the administration of
justice, which will serve as a deterrent. Therefore the committee inaugurated by Kaduna State Government to go over the reports of all the previous ethnoreligious crises, and advice on the implementation of the recommendations in the white papers on the respective crises is a welcomed development.
“We call on the state government to continue with this good work, as it will, by Allah’s Grace, be the lasting solution to the ethnoreligious crises in the state.
“We call on all the people of Southern Zaria, both Muslims, and non-Muslims, to embrace peace and understand that no one has the right and power to push the other out of the region.”
They are being used — Kaduna CAN chair
Reacting to the claim of the Muslim scholars, chairman of CAN in Kaduna State, Rev John Joseph Hayab, said the council was just in name and had outlived its usefulness.
He said: “Many who sit to speak for it are very old people whose memories are weak but they are being used by the powers that be in Kaduna and some selfish elements to plunge the state and nation into confusion.
“Anyone who has a score to settle with Gen Lekwot should publicly come out and never hide under this group that does not exist to stir up controversies.
“The first thing to revisit is the Amalgamation of 1914. We can further revisit the activities of British colonial masters which was the foundation of all the evil going on in our country.
“The Supreme Council for Sharia in Kaduna, not Nigeria, should stop blackmailing and intimidating Nigerians with fake calls. We know them and understand their game better now than before.”
Special forces deployed to S-Kaduna says DHQ
In a related development, Defence Headquarters has announced the deployment of special forces to checkmate the spate of killings in Southern Kaduna.
The Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. John Enenche, who disclosed this at a briefing in Abuja yesterday, said: “In a bid to curb the recent attacks and isolated killings in Southern Kaduna, troops of Operation “SAFE HAVEN” have continued to intensify efforts aimed at securing the lives and property in the general area.
“Particularly, Special Operations Forces have been deployed to the Joint Operations Area covering the various flashpoints.
“This move is expected to achieve the desired result with the provision of credible and actionable intelligence specifically from primary sources.”
Enenche however urged the locals to cooperate with the military by supplying credible and reliable information that would help troops in their operations.
He also urged the public not to give false information on the issue of terrorism or banditry in Kaduna, denying the allegation that the troops in Baga, Borno State, were indulging in activities other than fighting the war.
According to him, the attention of the Defence Headquarters was drawn to the alleged activities of troops in Baga, regarding dealings in livestock and farming.
“In line with military procedures, it was investigated and found to be baseless. The full details will be made available at the next briefing,” he said
The coordinator further disclosed that troops of Operation “ HADARIN DAJI” had continued the aggressive clearance operations in the entire North-West zone of the country.
According to him, the downward trend in the activities of armed bandits and cattle rustlers in the general areas of Katsina, Kebbi, Zamfara, Sokoto, and adjoining states had been witnessed in the last one month.
“Most of these criminal elements have been decimated. Gradually, there is the restoration of human activities in the zone.
“Farmers have returned to their farms, while other economic activities have picked up across the zone.
“The troops have continued to dominate the general area with clearance patrols, aggressive fighting patrols, and confidence-building patrols.
“The Military High Command congratulates the troops for the feat recorded and encourages the good people of the zone to continue to provide credible information to the troops,” he said.
Enenche said the military had also continued to sustain the tempo in the fight against terrorism in the North East with attendant successes.
He said within the period under review, there had been a reduction in the number of incidences recorded so far from the zone.
“That is an evidence of own troops overwhelming superiority over the criminal elements which have drastically degraded the operational capabilities of the BHT/ISWAP elements.
“Troops have also sustained the clearance operations, aggressive patrols and Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance missions, sustained air offensive operations as well as artillery and aerial bombardments in the theatre of operation,” he said.
B-Haram using child soldiers — MNJTF
Meanwhile, the Multinational Joint Task Force, MNJTF, yesterday raised the alarm that Boko Haram has introduced the use of child soldiers to resuscitate its declining influence in the Lake Chad Basin.
Chief of Military Public Information for MNJTF, Col. Timothy Antigha, who disclosed this in a statement issued yesterday, said the recruitment of child soldiers by the sect was part of their new strategies, following the recent mass surrender by their fighters to the military.
He said information on this disturbing development was brought in by intelligence sources and corroborated by concerned individuals and groups a couple of days ago.
He added that the Boko-Haram terrorists further confirmed the development when they posted pictures of children dressed in military fatigues and holding assault rifles in a video released during the Sallah celebrations.
According to him, the recruitment of child soldiers is the latest in a retinue of brutal and inhuman tactics deployed by Boko Haram since it began the futile attempt to cause mayhem and overthrow constitutional and social order.
“Earlier, Boko Haram had engaged in the mass abduction of schoolgirls, sexual enslavement of women, and mass murder of innocent civilians.
“This recent employment of child soldiers is a result of frustration caused by several operational losses, leadership crises, as well as disillusionment among fighters and their subsequent surrender in hundreds to the MNJTF.
“The focus on children is because they are easier to manipulate and indoctrinate than the adults within the region who can now see through the veil of deceit.
“Arising from this latest atrocity by Boko Haram, the MNJTF urges parents, local authorities, religious and traditional institutions to be vigilant and promptly alert security agencies of any overt or covert attempts to recruit their children and wards,” he said.
Antigha advised youths to be mindful of promises of power and influence, economic prosperity, and spiritual growth by the sect owing to the disillusionment and surrender that had depleted their ranks.
“The stories of hardship and evil within the terrorist organizations as revealed by all surrendered Boko Haram fighters should be sufficient notice that Boko Haram and ISWAP have nothing good to offer anyone.
“It would be recalled that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict forbids the recruitment and use of children in Armed Conflicts.
“The Protocol states among others that; “Armed groups distinct from armed forces of a country should not, under any circumstances, recruit or use in hostilities anyone under 18”.
“It is against this background that the MNJTF is drawing the attention of the United Nations, its relevant agencies and other stakeholders to the latest acts of inhumanity and desperation by Boko Haram, and urges severe condemnation and other necessary action.
“On our part, the MNJTF will continue with activities that are focused on the protection of children and other vulnerable groups within its area of operation,” he added.