Southern Kaduna: The illusion of peace



Southern Kaduna was a peaceful region. The peace and stability of the region attracts people from all over Nigeria. The fertility of the land and hospitality of the people of the region makes the region a safe haven for farmers and traders from all parts of Nigeria. The peaceful coexistence of the people of the region encourages inter-ethnic marriage even between Fulani and the tribesmen. The region has never had any history of ethnic or religious conflict prior to 1980.

This peace and instability was first broken in 1981, when the Adara a tribe in Kachia and Kagarko local governments violently ordered the Hausa occupant of Kasuwan Magani town to leave because they were told that, the land occupied by the Kasuwan Magani Hausa community belongs to their ancestors. That crisis was the first experience of breach of peace in southern Kaduna that led to loss of lives and properties. It was said to have claimed hundreds of lives and properties worth millions of naira destroyed.

In 1986 comes Yarkasuwa crisis, Yarkasuwa is a town in Lere local government, the crisis was said to have erupted when the Kurama tribesmen violently protested against the participation of a Muslim Kurama in the contest for District Headship of Yarkasuwa being a Muslim. It was also said more than a hundred people lost their lives as a result of that unfortunate crisis.

A year after in 1987, comes the notorious first Kafanchan crisis, the crisis actually claimed so many lives and properties. It was said, the crises were caused by one Reverend Bako, a Muslim convert who was invited by the Christian Association to the then old Kaduna State’s Advanced Teachers College Kafanchan who in flagrant disregard to the plurality of the people was misquoting the holy Qur’an and denigrating the religion thereby provoked the Muslim Student of the campus. The crises which started from the campus between students later spread to the town of Kafanchan, Zaria and even Katsina State.

In 1992 comes the notorious Zangon Kataf crisis, the Zango town been a commercial centre of the Zangon Kataf local which was dominated by the Hausa. In 1992 the tribesmen of Zango wanted to have shops in the Zangon town market and the existing market was located in the Muslim’s dominated area has no chances for expansion. On that premise, the then chairman proposed the relocation of the Zango town market to another place, but the place where the market was to be relocated to, was the Eid praying ground of the Muslim community of Zango. So they rushed to Upper Area Court Kafanchan for an injunction restraining the Zangon Kataf local government from taking over their land for market. The court order obtained sparked the crisis. The crisis was the deadliest then. So many lives and property were lost. In fact, the entire Muslim community who were the majority in the town were completely displaced and their lands occupied by the tribesmen. The then government constituted a committee of inquiry under Justice Karibi Whyte. The committee submitted its reports but the report was never implemented.

The Kafanchan crisis of 1999 was said to occur when after the death of the emir of Jama’a, Mal. Sani Muhammad the tribesmen protested against further installation of his child as he Emir of Jama’a. The protest turned violent and so many lives and properties lost.

In the year 2000, 12 northern states declared Shari’a implementation, Kaduna State too declared. The declaration was protested by the Christians in Kaduna. The protest in the heart of Kaduna city later turned violent and claimed so many lives. The said crisis later spread to the southern Kaduna and became more violent than that of Kaduna city. Kachia town with majority muslims inhabitants, Unguwan Rimi in Zango, Matsirga in Jama’a and Madakiya were completely displaced.

In 2011 comes the post-election violence, the post-election violence happened in many northern states. In the northern states, the houses of the PDP members were set ablaze in protest to the alleged rigging of the 2011 presidential election against the then Northern candidate Muhammad Buhari. But in southern Kaduna, the crisis takes a different dimension. It was a purely ethno religious violence against Muslims. It spreads to many towns and villages, Zonkwa town with the highest number of casualties. The entire Muslim’s community were displaced from the town.

In 2014 too Kachia Eid ground was demolished by the tribesmen. When the Muslim’s community grouped to see the extent of the damages done to the fence which was razed down, the youths from the tribesmen violently confronted them living several people dead and many injured.

The region which was hitherto peaceful, more peaceful than many now peaceful places has now turned to a war theatre. With a scintilla of provocation, death can ensue. This was a region where the Hausa used to mock the Fulani of been too intimate to the tribesmen as against their closest brothers the Hausas. In fact, the Jaba tribe was said to have been nicknamed “Jaba kashin shanu” because of how they so much value the cow dung. Jaba are ginger farmers, ginger needs manure more than fertilizer. The need for cow dung for manure strengthened the relationship between Jaba tribesmen and Fulani. In fact, so many Jaba tribesmen speak Fulani, Fulani too living within the area speak Jaba. This was a region where the tribesmen we seeing the Hausa in the town as confidante. The tribesmen used to send their children to the town for schooling staying with Hausa in the town without any fear. Now the arrangement has totally changed and replaced with bitterness and animosity, nobody is happy with another. The atmosphere is always tensed with higher chances of violence escalation at any slightest provocation.

The negative effects of the crisis affects both the victims and the perpetrators. The economic activities of the region is been hampered and dwindled. So many sources of income lost and potential investors drawn away. The region which was hitherto very peaceful and attractive to all and sundry became the Somalia of Nigeria with potential Janjaweed killing everyone including commuters mercilessly. If crisis is ongoing in the region, the safest thing is keeping off the roads within the axis, as following through that axis is synonymous to signing a death warrant.

The animosity, the bitterness and the hatred has ended so many relationships. Everyone has a case against the other. The crisis has left its victims with bitter memories, the effects which is a desire for reprisal at any slightest opportunity. No one asks or cares about the causes of any violence. Everyone queues behind his brother in faith or in the tribe to unleash terror in support without minding who is at fault. Difference in tribes and or religion is the only fault line. The crises are therefore mostly attacks, counter-attacks and reprisals, attacks and counter-attacks with both faiths been perpetrators and victims at different occasions

The violence are actually linked, the omission or commission of the government during or after the crises are the main causes of the unending crises in the region. This is demonstrated in the causes of the recent Zango crises of the month of June 2020. The Zango community were displaced in the crises of 1992, many of them left, but when peace returned many of them returned after most of their farms have been occupied by the tribesmen. Efforts to retrieve back some of the farms were unsuccessful, that left a scar of animosity. So when the dead body of a teacher called Moses Yusuf was found at the border between Kauru local government and Zango, the Kataf concluded that the deceased was killed by the Hausa Community. This incidence caused the crisis that claimed lives and properties. Until the government provide a permanent solution, not a solution of appointing chiefdoms as done by Col.  Lawal Jafar Isa in 1992 or Ahmed Muhammed Makarfi in 2000. The chiefdoms were actually created as part of the recommendation of the Committees of Inquiry of both 1992 and 2000 crises. But we need no mercury or magnifying glasses to know that the recommendations made as an instrument to foster peace failed. The appointment of chiefs from the tribesmen and balkanization of Zazzau emirate could not prevent further crises in the region. The only solution to the lingering unending crises is that the law should be allowed to take it cause. There is no gainsaying that, the bigger solution for achieving permanent peace relies on the people of southern Kaduna. Every tribe must tolerate the other; everyone should only claim the ownership of his house or the farm he occupies. To return the lost glory of the region and hitherto ever-growing economic activities, peace is the answer. They either live in peace for growth, development and prosperity or live in pieces for misery, poverty and underdevelopment.

Dattijo Kabir, a lawyer and Public Affairs Commentator from Kaduna, can be reached

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