Governor Nasir el Rufai has denied that genocide and land grabbing is behind the breakout of violence and killings in parts of the state.
The Kaduna state governor said the current outbreak of violence in parts of southern Kaduna was triggered by a clash over farmland.
El-Rufai was speaking at the meeting of the Kaduna State Council of Chiefs, held at the Lugard Hall, Kaduna, on Tuesday, 4th August 2020
He said: “We have recently had an upsurge in violence and wanton killings in parts of the state…part of the misleading narrative on the crisis is a false claim of genocide and land grabbing that is being made now, just as they were made without any basis during the 2016/2017 crisis.”
See his full speech below:
Remarks by Malam Nasir El-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, at the meeting of the Kaduna State Council of Chiefs, held at the Lugard Hall, Kaduna, on Tuesday, 4th August 2020
1. I wish to thank your Highnesses for your presence in this crucial meeting. The Kaduna State Government welcomes this opportunity to update you on the Covid-19 of the state and the security challenges in parts of the state.
2. As you are aware, we have made determined efforts to protect our people from the suffering and death Covid-19 could cause. This included imposing a partial lockdown of the state for 75 days as we tried to slow the spread of coronavirus while strengthening the capacity of our health system to trace, test and treat infected persons. Enforcing the Quarantine Order was an expensive undertaking for the government and a challenge to the resilience of citizens many of whom had their sources of livelihoods constrained during the period. With no exit date known yet for Covid-19, it was prudent to balance lives and livelihoods by allowing a significant reopening of the state from 10 June 2020.
3. Crucial to a safe reopening of the state is the embrace of personal responsibility for Covid-19 prevention by citizens. Beyond police and mobile courts, the most sustainable way to keep our people safe is if individuals take personal responsibility for themselves and their families. That is why the Kaduna State Government has been calling on all residents of the state to Let us move FORWARD in our fight with personal responsibility in our fight against Covid-19. The Commissioner of Health, Dr. Amina Mohammed-Baloni, is attending this meeting to provide a detailed briefing on the Covid-19 pandemic, what the state is doing and how your Highnesses can contribute to prevention efforts. But I can say that as traditional rulers, you can help ensure that our people understand, embrace and practice the message of personal responsibility in the FORWARD campaign.
4. Your Highnesses, we have recently had an upsurge in violence and wanton killings in parts of the state. This is a source of profound sadness for us. We mourn the dead, commiserate with their families and wish the wounded speedy recovery. Amidst our sorrow for the fallen, we remain committed to ending the legacy of violence that has blighted the state for 40 years, needlessly taken many lives and curtailed the life chances of residents.
5. As governor, my first official action was to convene an emergency security meeting on 30 May 2015. This was prompted by reports of killings in Sanga LGA the previous day. The outcome of that meeting was the setting up of a committee chaired by General Martin Luther Agwai to study and proffer solutions to the incessant killings in southern Kaduna which had intensified since the violent aftermath of the 2011 elections. That emergency security meeting also decided to prepare a White Paper on the report of the Peace and Reconciliation Committee that had been established by the government of late Sir Patrick Yakowa.
6. In 2015, we took action against the urban rascality of sarasuka gangs and began to address the widespread problem of cattle rustling and other acts of rural banditry that were menacing many of our communities. We initiated contacts with other states in the Northwest and Niger State to discuss joint action in the Kuyambana forest range that straddles the concerned states. This resulted in a collaboration where the states funded military action against bandits in the Birnin-Gwari axis.
7. By early 2016, we took our efforts to build a constituency for peace across the state to another level, collaborating with the Plateau State Government and the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue. In southern Kaduna, we supported the process of the Kafanchan Peace Declaration as a community-led effort for sustainable peace. On Saturday, 12 November 2016, it was with optimism that we unveiled the Peace Apology billboard in Samaru-Kataf and presenting the staff of office to the new Agwatyap, His Highness Dominic Gambo Yahaya. The tenet of the Peace Apology was a call for mutual forgiveness and a dedication to peaceful means of resolving differences.
8. However, that optimism proved to be short-lived. The outbreak of sustained peace that we expected was soon shattered by a spiral of violence a few days later. We pushed for more security deployment and took the meeting of the State Security Council to Kafanchan on 20 December 2016 in a practical effort at solidarity with the people in a time of peril.
9. By early 2017, the Kaduna State Government, working with the Federal Government had answered the decades-old demand for expanded, permanent security presence in southern Kaduna. The army established a base in Kafanchan while the Kaduna State Government bought an estate to accommodate a mobile police squadron. The Federal Government also extended the mandate of Operation Safe Haven, based in neighbouring Plateau State, to southern Kaduna and appointed a commander of the rank of colonel to lead it.
10. Amidst all our exertions to extend and strengthen security presence in the state, the Kaduna State Government continues to insist that beyond boots on the ground, the best guarantee of peace is the willingness of communities to live in peace and harmony. Therefore, in September 2017, we established the Kaduna State Peace Commission to help encourage communities in our state to adopt peaceful means of resolving their differences. The commission is chaired by Most Revd. Dr. Josiah Idowu-Fearon, former Anglican Archbishop of Kaduna and current Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion.
11. Given the sad episodes of violence that have occurred in Zangon-Kataf, especially in 1992 and 2011, it is especially saddening that the current outbreak of violence in parts of southern Kaduna was triggered by a clash over a farmland in Zangon-Kataf on 5 June 2020. The clashes recurred on 11 June 2020 and it has brought avoidable casualties across all sides of a communal conflict that complicates the criminal actions of bandits. As part of the solution to this problem, the government has initiated a White Paper process on the reports of the 1992 Justice Rahila Cudjoe Commission of Inquiry and the 1995 AVM Usman Muazu Peace and Reconciliation Committee. We expect the committee drafting the White Paper to submit it shortly.
12. We will continue to support the security agencies to restore calm in the affected communities. To make this sustainable, we call on the traditional institution to collaborate with security agencies to expose and report criminals in their communities.
13. Part of the misleading narrative on the crisis is a false claim of genocide and land grabbing that is being made now, just as they were made without any basis during the 2016/2017 crisis. As governor, I authorise any traditional ruler to tell the media about any inch of land within their domain that has been forcibly grabbed or illegally occupied by anybody or group.
14. Since 2015, we have ensured that the traditional institution is part of the State Security Council. Apart from His Highness, the Emir of Zazzau, who is a permanent member of the Council, one traditional ruler each represents Zones 2 and 3.
15. Your Highnesses, I wish to assure you that we will continue with our wholistic review of the chieftaincy system. The thrust of the reforms is to put in safeguards to protect our traditional rulers from administrative and executive capriciousness. The reforms also seek to align the traditional institution as an enabler of inclusion in our diverse communities. The reforms place our chiefs and emirs in charge of geographic areas, not tribes, making them the leader of everyone that lives within their domain.
16. This is a logical extension of our government’s priority on the principle of citizenship, anchored on residency and ensuring that the rights granted by the constitution can be enjoyed wherever a citizen lives. The State Executive Council approved this focus on citizenship during our first term. This is the 21st Century and no community should be immune from respecting the rights granted to citizens by the Constitution.
17. Thank you for listening.
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