By Lawal A. Dogara, Kaduna
The relative peace in Southern part of Kaduna State was within the week disrupted as Kaduna Police command has confirmed that 32 persons mostly women and children have been killed in fresh clashes between groups of youth and herdsmen in Kajuru Local Government Area of the state.
The local government which is about 50 kilometres from Kaduna, the state capital peaceful until 11th July 2017, when a young herder was attacked by group of youth. His father, who came to rescue his son was also assaulted and later died in a hospital where he was rushed to for medical attention.Before these killings, Kajuru was among the few peaceful local governments in southern part of the state.
The development however metamorphosed into fresh round of confrontation between group of native youth farmers and herders and as at 17th July, 2017, 32 people were reportedly killed and two others sustained varying degrees of injury.
According to CP Agyole, “the problem started when some youths claimed that they saw a Fulani with a bag which they alleged to contain military camouflage but he ran away.
“On their way coming, they saw a young grazing herder and they attacked him. But while that was ongoing, his father came in to rescue his son and was subsequently assaulted but later died in a hospital where he was rushed to.
“We must not assume or conclude that because in recent past, in some communities of the state where attacks had taken place by suspected Fulani herdsmen and therefore for every violent attack, the aggressors must be Fulani herdsmen. I do believe that in this particular incident, that assertion is not true.
“Police was informed and we immediately swung into action but before we could reach the place, 26 Fulanis who were mostly women and children have been killed and their huts razed. This took place at remote settlements.
“This form of unprovoked attack is not only barbaric, it must be condemned especially when the state is experiencing some level of peace. Police will continue to render all legitimate service to ensure peace in the state. We will not rest until those behind the dastardly act are brought to justice and we will do all we can to prevent escalation of this”, the CP assured.
The police boss then implored media to verify their information before going public saying, misleading information may escalate the situation if not properly managed.
But eyewitness account captured the story differently from the police, saying the crisis started when some Fulani youths stormed a village called Ungwan Uka to avenge the death of a certain herdsman allegedly killed by some village youths at a farm in the area.
Earlier, the National Secretary of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Dr. Abdullahi Ibrahim, said the previous attack which left four herdsmen dead followed the abduction of two Fulani indigenes in the area.
Dr. Ibrahim added that the gunmen had also attacked Tsonho Damishi community in Chikun Local Government Area of the state where they destroyed houses.
He had described the attacks as unwarranted and provoking and appealed to members of the association to remain calm while calling on security agencies to bring the killers to justice.
In a related development, the command also paraded scores of criminal suspects who have been terrorising Kaduna residents over a period of time.
The suspects who are mostly youths between 15 and 23 years of age according to the command were arrested while carrying out their nefarious activities along Kaduna-Abuja, Kaduna-Zaria and Kaduna-Birnin Gwari highways.
Though the police said the suspects are many, 56 were counted while they were being paraded before newsmen by the CP at the command’s headquarters in Kaduna on Wednesday.
CP said within the last two weeks, fight against crime and criminality has paid off with the arrest of several criminal suspects involved in crime which include armed robbery, illegal possession of firearms, rape, Sara-Suka, kidnapping, cattle rustling, counterfeit US dollars printing among others.