Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State has said that the killings in Southern Kaduna by suspected herdsmen is pure criminality and has nothing to do with ethnicity and religion.
Speaking to a group of journalists, the governor faulted the statement credited to the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria(CAN), Reverend Supo Ayokunle, who had earlier described the attacks as religious cleansing.
‘’The same Fulanis are killing Fulanis in Zamfara State. It has nothing to do with religion or ethnicity. It is pure banditry.”
According to the governor, the perpetrators of the attacks in both Southern Kaduna and Zamfara State, are just criminals, adding that ‘’their ethnicity and religion do not matter.”
He pleaded with leaders to be mindful of their utterances and stop encouraging their people to resort to self-help. ‘’Let’s solve the problem; Let’s not bring sentiments and division into it,” he said .
The governor listed the steps his administration had taken in order to detect the root cause of the killings in Southern Kaduna, beginning with the setting up of the General Martin Luther Agwai -led committee.
He said that the committee found out that the killings in the area was rooted in the 2011- post election violence, where Fulanis from Cameroun and Niger Republic, were killed in Southern Kaduna, while they were returning to their countries.
“They organised themselves and came back for revenge,” he said,
“A lot of what was happening in Southern Kaduna and Plateau State, is actually from outside Nigeria.”
He said that late Governor Patrick Yakowa, had sent emissaries to some of these Fulani communities in neighbouring countries in order to make peace ‘’but after his death, the whole thing stopped.”
He further said that his administration continued from where Yakowa stopped by sending some people to these countries to explain to the Fulanis that ‘’there is a new governor. He is also Fulani like you and he has no problem paying compensation for loss of lives and livestock.”
The governor said that there was peace when these steps were taken ‘’but what is happening now, I don’t want to restrict it to Southern Kaduna, it is a case of pure banditry.”
According to el -Rufai, these renewed killings have nothing to do with the fall- outs of the post election violence. ‘’It was a small problem that started in Ninte, Godogodo, that could have been handled better by both the Fulanis and community leaders,” he said.
While appealing to both sides, he said that as governor of Kaduna State, ‘’I am very sad over the situation.