by Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna
Barely 96hours after appealing to Kaduna state governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, to suspend the 24hours’ curfew imposed on Zangon-Kataf and Kauru local government areas of southern Kaduna due to rise in hardship incurred on the rural farmers by Southern Kaduna People’s Union, SOKAPU, the state government has extended the curfew and deployed more troops to the areas to enforced it.
SOKAPU, the umbrella body of southern Kaduna natives, had in a press statement on 1st July, 2020, stressed that, 97 percent of those affected by the 24-hour curfew imposed on two of their local government areas are indigenous rural farmers, who are locked up without food and access to farming.
The body, in the release, also lamented that markets, churches and other rural activities were adversely affected by the curfew, adding that SOKAPU office had been flooded with “Save Our Souls” calls from the affected people as a result of hungry and starvation.
But, rather than relaxing the 24 hours’ curfew, the Kaduna State Government extended it indefinitely and deployed troops to Zangon-Kataf local government area of the state, according to the statement credited to the Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Mr. Samuel Aruwan.
“The Kaduna State Government has deployed troops to Zangon-Kataf Local Government Area of the state as part of measures to find a permanent solution to the perennial crises that keep erupting in the area.
“Violent clashes broke out in the local council on June the 11, between Kataf, Hausa and Fulani communities that were reportedly having a dispute over ownership of farmlands, a situation which led to the loss of lives.
“Following the renewed conflict, the state government on June 12 imposed an indefinite curfew in Kauru and Zangon-Kataf Local Governments.
“The State Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, who visited the area to assess the situation, said extending the curfew is part of steps to manage the tension and restore calm,” it stated.
Earlier, a statement issued and signed by SOKAPU national public relations officer Mr. Luka Binniyat, and made available to journalists in Kaduna, stated that the 24hours’ curfew imposed on the areas as a result of a murder of a 32 years old indigenous teacher over disputed farmland, does affect the Fulanis.
SOKAPU stated that, “The two LGAs have now been under a rigid 24-hours curfew for 19 days and still counting.
According to the Union, “97% of those affected by this curfew are indigenous local farmers, who are locked up without food or access to their farms. Being predominantly Christians, it is now against the spirit of the curfew to attend church activities. Markets are shut and farming activities have come to a halt.
“SOKAPU is daily besieged by SOS calls from starving families. Those, who have money in the banks, cannot move out. Relieve cannot also reach them as all roads, especially in Atyap Chiefdom are shut,” they stated.
SOKAPU continued that, “Yet, Zangon-Kataf and Kauru LGAs are not in any form of crisis or conflict. Even in Kaduna Town, there was no time that the town was under 24-hr curfew for over a week during conflicts.
“Fulani herdsmen are hardly affected by curfews, as they always quietly move away in their typical migratory patterns.
“This is not the first time that Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna state is meting out such a hurtful executive order of no security gains over Zangon-Kataf LGA,” it stated.
SOKAPU in the earlier statement appealed to the government of Kaduna state to lift the curfew and ease the suffering of their people, and also called on the National Assembly, the Nigeria Human Rights Commission, opinion and religious leaders, good spirited persons and the international community to intervene in this matter.
“It’ll be recalled that, on the 11th June, 2020, Kaduna state government imposed a 24-hrs curfew over Atyap and Chawai Chiefdoms in Zangon-Kataf and Kauru LGAs of Kaduna state, respectively,” SOKAPU stated.