Jigawa State Governor Abubakar Badaru and his Kaduna State counterpart, Nasir El-Rufai, on Thursday blamed the rising insecurity in parts of the North on past governors and clerics.
Ahmed Rufa’i, Dutse; AbdulGafar Alabelewe, Kaduna and Okodili Ndidi, Abuja
While Abubakar said that past governors were lackadaisical in adopting policies and laws guiding herdmen and farmers, El-Rufai accused the religious leaders of using “their platforms and revered positions to divide and incite violence.”
The two governors spoke at different events in Gagarawa and Kaduna. However, the Supreme Council for Shari’ah in Nigeria (SCSN) said the failure of the government to execute Maj. -Gen. Zamani Lekwot was responsible for the recurring crises in Southern Kaduna.
Gen. Lekwot and some people were sentenced to death for their roles in the 1992 Zangon-Kataf crisis but were pardoned by past military regimes.
The military has however-deployed Special Operations Forces in the troubled Southern Kaduna to combat the escalating killings by bandits in the Christian-dominated part of the state.
At the launch of a Social Intervention Programme (SIP) for additional 18 local governments in Jigawa State, Abubakar lamented that insecurity was on the rise in the North because past governors exhibited lackadaisical attitudes towards adopting policies that could foster harmonious relationship between herders and farmers.
His words: “Lack of good and deserving policies and not taking timely and adequate measures on forest and grazing reserves by some past state governments worsened security in many states”.
Abubakar, however, exempted two former governors of the state – Saminu Turaki and Sule Lamido – for laying ”good foundations for the maintenance of peace in the state, especially between herdsmen and farmers.”
In Kaduna, El-Rufai shocked visiting Primate of Anglican Church of Nigeria, Most Rev.Henry Ndukuba and his team when he told them that some religious leaders had in the past 40 years been the drivers of violence and religious intolerance in the state.
He said: ‘’The Primate is aware of the history of violence and religious intolerance in this state. Our study of the situation over four decades has shown that the main drivers of this violence are a few clerics that use their platforms, not to preach peaceful co-existence or promote our common humanity.
‘’Rather, they use their platforms and revered positions to divide and incite violence. I was sad to hear from the Primate, that he was a victim in 1987, when his house was burnt down in Wusasa.’’
The governor, who was responding to comments by the Primate, thanked him and his delegation for the visit. lamenting that the state was going through challenging times, he said that the visit ‘’is an indication of the positive role that religion can play to unite our people. This has been the overriding objective of this state government.’’
El-Rufai added: ‘’In those days, the Primate will recall, that this sort of violence starts from one part of the state and then spread all over the state. One credit that this government gets from everyone,including our adversaries, has been our ability to contain these outbreaks to their points of origin..”
Rev. Ndukuba recalled that as a resident of Kaduna State, he was a victim of the 1987 religious violence when his house was burnt.
He said: “The Church of Nigeria stands for peaceful co-existence and the ability of people to pursue their enterprise wherever they may be -whether North, South, East, West—any part of this country.”
The Prelate called on all Nigerians to abide by the tenet of their faith by showing consideration for others.
Also yesterday, SCSN called for a revisit of the death sentence passed on Lekwot and others for their involvement in the 1992 Zango-Kataf bloody crisis.
It argued during a news conference by its Secretary , AbdurRahman Hassan,that the pardon granted them by the military administrations of Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Sani Abacha had encouraged some people to engage in killings in the Southern Kaduna.
The group said: “We want those pardoned in 1992 during Zango-Kataf crises, after being condemned to death to be executed now because that is the only way peace will return to the area.
”After every crisis, a commission of enquiry will be formed, report will be submitted to the government of the day, yet to no avail. For instance, the late Justice Pius Okadigbo’s tribunal on the Zangon-Kataf crises found Maj.-Gen. Lekwot and others guilty of the massacre that took place there and were sentenced to death, but they were later pardoned by the Gen. Babangida administration. That was what opened the floodgate of violence, which is ravaging the area till now, because some people felt they are above the law.
“The council has been saying, time without number, that all those found guilty in these crimes against humanity must face the wrath of the law.”
When contacted on the position of Shari’ah Council, the President of Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU), Jonathan Asake simply replied: “I can’t comment on it without seeing the press statement”.
Special Operations Forces have been deployed to combat the escalating Southern Kaduna killings.
Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Ma.Gen. John Enenche, told reporters that the action was ”expected to achieve the desired result with the provision of credible and actionable intelligence specifically from primary sources”.
Enenche advised the people ” to cooperate with the security agencies by availing them with the required information that will be useful to our collective objective of taking out the criminals from the area.”