Until March 10, 2021, Danjuma La’ah, the “distinguished” senator representing Southern Kaduna Senatorial District, had been in denial about the nature of the crisis that had bedeviled the entire state, but most especially that of the Southern part, that La’ah, his cohorts, kept describing as genocide in order to garner international sympathy for what from all intents was a political project- the demonization of Nasir El-Rufai and the complete political domination of the area by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). La’ah in several engagements, both on the floor of the Senate and media statements, despite the quantum of classified security reports available to him, due to these political objectives, refused to admit the reality that the banditry attacks were actually more prevalent and devastating to the economy of the Central Senatorial District, than that of the Southern part of the state.
Senator La’ah, like most Nigerian politicians, pathetically refused to lead, because he unfortunately lacked the courage of convictions to be honest with “his people”, that indeed the challenging times, are national and are not peculiar to Southern Kaduna, like he has belatedly admitted, after years of bandying falsehoods and misleading the people. La’ah not only squandered the unique opportunity of being a statesman, which is what senators are supposed to be, but of fundamentally enhancing the much needed peaceful coexistence in the state. Rather he continuously fed the people with the jaundiced narrative that Nasir El-Rufai, the governor, was wholly responsible for the crisis, while actively encouraging them on the dangerous path of self defense, that contributed in worsening the crisis in that part of the state. Without doubt, La’ah achieved his short term objective of returning to the Senate, a feat no other senator from the zone has achieved, but obviously to the detriment of long term interests of the people of the area, who together with SOKAPU leaders have successfully led into political Afghanistan.
La’ah is notorious for wild allegations and scant regards for facts, but his March 10, 2021, historic statement, acknowledging the facts contained in the “The Security Situation In Kaduna State,1st January To 31st December 2020 Report”, recently released by the Kaduna State Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs, will be celebrated in the annals of Kaduna state, as the turning point in the quest for peaceful coexistence, the day that truth finally triumphed over propaganda.
The Kaduna State Government 2020 Situation Report on the security challenges recorded, the nature and places, has once again demonstrated that governance is about responsibility and accountability. The report, like the creation of the ministry of internal security, is a novelty, and can in every respect be described as an equivalent of the annual audited statement of account of the various governments, the difference being that while the audited statement of account shows the authentic financial position, income, and expenditure to the people, the security report renders an authentic account of the security situation, even though no law demands it. Only the publication of audited statements of accounts are expressly enshrined in the constitution, which unfortunately is observed more in breach; only states like Kaduna and Enugu, are known to be faithful in publishing their audited financial statements as demanded by law.
By causing the publication of a corresponding report of the State of the State- The Security Situation In Kaduna State Report, which can be likened in objectives to the annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – the Human Rights Reports – that cover internationally recognized individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the U.S. Department of State, El-Rufai has further raised the bar by asserting the fundamental rights of Kaduna citizens to know, by extension Nigerians and indeed foreign missions and investors interested in investing in the state, with authentic security standing of the state. The report, which El- Rufai described as sobering, without deliberately setting out to deny “confirmed mischief makers” the space to continue to freely operate with impunity, which essentially, is about attracting foreign funding(dollars) using the crisis, the state government achieved that, because going forward, any serious donor agency can fact-check wild claims of genocide by merchants of hate against the document by the state.
The report addresses situations and events in calendar year 2020 only. And from all ramifications the report is credible, and this much the Agwatyap Sir Dominic Gambo Yahaya, an unrepentant advocate of peaceful coexistence, acknowledged at the public presentation. Last year in spite of a sustained campaign of calumny by the merchants of conflict, the Agwatyap trudged on and has ushered in a new era of peace in Atyap Chiefdom, once the various communities admitted to killing each other, a fact the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) has to date refused to admit. The report also meets other critical hallmarks of a credible security report; which is effective communication, unambiguity, conciseness and informative.
The report shows that in 2020, 937 people were killed,1,972 kidnapped and 7,195 animals rustled. Of the 937 people killed, Igabi local government area in the Central Senatorial District and not Zangon-Kataf or Jema’a LGAs in the Southern Senatorial District suffered the highest number of casualties of 152 people, closely followed by Kajuru, which like Igabi is also in the embattled Central Senatorial District with 144. In fact over 50% of the 937 deaths were recorded in Chikun, Igabi, Giwa, Birnin Gwari LGAs,in the Central Senatorial District with 617 deaths. The figure for the Southern Senatorial District is 286, which is about 1/3 of the total,is largely due to “sporadic clashes and banditry” which usually triggered reprisal attacks. Kaduna North Senatorial District, is the least affected zone.
According to the report, the most challenging security issues that confronted the state, are cattle rustling, banditry attacks and kidnapping. But the communal clashes due to the claims of genocide seemed to have attracted more media attention. Again, as in the number of deaths the Central Senatorial District was worse off, with 1,561 kidnapped from Birnin Gwari, Igabi, Giwa and Chikun LGAs out of the 1,972 people kidnapped, while only 274 people were kidnapped in the Southern Senatorial District, especially along the Kaduna-Abuja highway. The figures from rustling are equally not good for the Central Senatorial District, as of the 7,195 herds of cattle rustled, 5,614, about 89% were from the zone.
The report acknowledges the enormous challenges, the impact on rural economy, but more encouraging are the efforts to reduce the attacks to the barest minimum, because while in reality no government can guarantee absolute security,it equally cannot fold its arms and allow bandits free reign. Already, the efforts of the state government in several areas- especially the creation of the ministry, which has ensured a synergy between the security agencies, the creation of the Kaduna State Peace Commission, to drive the mediation process amongst the various warring communities, the deployment of technology in the war, are beginning to bear fruits.
Kaduna state is undoubtedly facing serious security challenges, but will hopefully overcame one of the toughest and darkest periods in its history with the total commitment of all citizens of the state, especially as the report has put lie to many falsehoods that hitherto divided the state. Contrary to the falsehoods, is the reality that victims of criminal actions cut across all ethnic and religious groups and that the Central Senatorial District and not the Southern Senatorial District is actually bearing the brunt of the security crisis. Ado writes from Kaduna.