Banditry: Southern Kaduna on the brink

For over a decade, Nigeria has been bedeviled by insecurity, ranging from Boko Haram and their ISWAP counterparts to bandits and unknown gunmen. Amidst all this, the statistics of unemployed youths and graduates in the nation has been rising to an alarming rate.
One would wonder if this government which is saddled with the responsibility of protecting its citizens’ lives and properties exists. Is Nigeria a violent country? The nation used to be the most peaceful, united and serene; a nation that is endowed and blessed with both human and natural resources where other countries tap and benefit from. Today, violent crimes like rape, armed robbery, assault, hostage taking, carjacking, kidnapping and banditry are now common throughout the country, and have almost become daily routine. Nigeria is in a messy state. Its lost glory needs to be restored, as it is not too late. The country is sinking!
The rate of insecurity in Kaduna state is alarming and really calls for concern. With the degree of atrocities going on in the state, the people seem to have lost hope on the government, saying it has failed them. The people feel insecure. Most of the attacks in the state seem to be seasonal (rainy season). In this period, people don’t go to their farms with one mind as others are even afraid to go because of the fear of the unknown. As a result, hunger sets in.

Gunmen invade communities and kill people. They also raze houses, making the little surviving ones homeless. On July 13, 2021, a community in Zangon Kataf local government area of Kaduna state was said to be attacked by these heartless herdsmen, leaving eight persons dead. More than 100 houses together with an ECWA Church were set ablaze. Among the houses burnt down was that of Agwai Atyap, that is, the traditional home of the Chief of Atyap Land, Dominic Yahaya, in Zangon Kataf. They also set vehicles and other valuables worth millions of naira ablaze. Imagine a community where over 100 houses are burnt. What will such a community look like? These herdsmen even go to the extent of burning down sacred places; churches and mosques. One would ask if these cows in human clothing belong to a religion, and if such religion preaches violence. 

Because of the laxity of the Kaduna state government to curtail this menace in the sate, the Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU)’s Spokesman Luka Binniyat said, “The latest attack is in tandem to what we have been saying that there is genocide going on in Southern Kaduna, and there is an agenda to drive us out of our ancestral homes”. The Southern Kaduna people are now forced to accuse the Kaduna state government and the military of turning their backs on the attacks by these bandits for over a decade.

The Tsam Chawai Chiefdom of Kauru local government area of Kaduna state has also known no peace over the time. This is a land blessed with traditional rulers and members of the House of Representatives. Yet, nobody seems to be saying anything concerning these killings by these bandits ravaging the communities. Maybe, because of the fear of being sanctioned. The traditional rulers and other well meaning members of the Chawai land need to put all hands on deck, to ensure that the Kaduna state government does what is right for the safety of its people. The land is getting consumed day by day. Let’s call a spade, a spade.
Recently, in the early hours of Monday, August 2, 2021, the terrorists herdsmen launched multiple attacks on some of the communities of the Tsam Chawai Chiefdom of Kauru local government area of Kaduna state, where in ‘Angwan Magaji’ seven people were killed, one missing, over 50 houses burnt, and 37 farmlands destroyed. ‘Kishisho’, also a community in the land, six people were killed with an unrecorded number of people missing. In ‘Kigam’, four people were killed, and many displaced. In ‘Kikoba’, six people were killed, three injured, 11 houses burnt and 31 farmlands destroyed. Too numerous to mention.

Very Rev. Fr. Williams Kaura Abba, a professor and an Academic Dean, St. Albert Institute for Higher Education at Catholic Diocese of Kafanchan, Kaduna state, said, “Such is our situation. Whether they are Fulani herdsmen terrorists, or bandits or militia, they are one and the same. The goal is one: to impoverish and exterminate us. Count our losses carefully, you will see. Open our eyes and come to terms with it. How many lives have we lost? Most of the victims in their prime. How much money have we lost? Imagine such humongous sums injected into our economy. We have been taking many years backwards. We have to, again, rebuild our burnt houses. We have to wait for another farming season as our maize stalks have all been cut down. Hunger looms. And this becomes a yearly reoccurence. For how long shall we allow these killjoys to be doing this to us? Is this saying no longer true, “once beaten, twice shy?”.
I call on government and all security agencies to rise up to their responsibilities of protecting the lives and properties of  citizens as enjoined by the constitution. The nation is indeed sinking and therefore halting it now would prevent further damages!

It is worrisome and scary how these bandits break walls into people’s homes and kidnap them in their sleep. Politicians are not safe. Traditional rulers are not safe. Even religious leaders are not safe. In fact, no one is safe!Recently, a Catholic priest of the Kafanchan Diocese in Kaduna state, Very Rev. Fr. Andrew Anana, was abducted in his parish house, in Godogodo Chiefdom, Jema’a local government area of Kaduna state, in the early hours of Thursday, August 5, 2021, though, later released! Which way Nigeria?
I call on Governor Nasir Ahmed El-Rufa’i of Kaduna state to take drastic measures to curtail this menace ravaging the state, otherwise, people would be left with no choice than avenge which could make the whole state sink deeper and get consumed.
Bawa writes from Kubwa, Abuja, via[email protected].