…108 communities displaced.
by Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna
Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU), the umbrella organization of the Southern ethnic nationalities, has described as genocide, the ongoing terror activities of armed gunmen against Zangon-Kataf LGA of Kaduna State.
The Union, which made the assertion in a statement issued Tuesday and signed by its spokesman, Mr Luka Binniyat, averred that 33 people have so far been killed by the gunmen.
SOKAPU, in the statement made available on Tuesday evening, titled, ‘The Ongoing Genocide in Southern Kaduna,’ stated that “The invaders stormed Magamiya Village, last night around 11pm and started shooting.
“For the 6th day running, armed gunmen, identified as Fulani herdsmen by victims, lay siege to several communities in Atyapland, Zangon-Kataf Local Government Area (LGA) of Southern Kaduna, and left no less than 33 people dead in an ongoing genocide and land grabbing in which 108 Southern Kaduna communities have been displaced and taken over by them since 2019.
“In the latest orgy of bloodshed, the invaders stormed Magamiya Village, last night around 11pm and started shooting. The family compound of the traditional ruler of Atyap Chiefdom, Agwatyap of Atyap Chiefdom, Sir Dominic Yahaya, was attacked.
“Several blocks of flats and rooms that make up the family compound of five households were looted of valuables and foodstuffs, which were carted into four waiting Hilux vans.
“The houses were then set ablaze. A relation of the revered traditional ruler, Mr. Toma Tauna, 70, was killed by the assailants. They went further to loot 6 more homes, which they also burnt, leaving Matthew Pama, 62, dead in the same village.
“After putting in about 2 hours of unchallenged murder, looting and arson, the armed herdsmen attempted to burn down St Pious Catholic Church in the village, but help came from other villages and the attackers retreated in the Hilux vans for another village.
“Magamiya is about 3km from Zangon-Kataf semi-urban town where combined troops of soldiers and other security men are camped complete with patrol vehicles and armoured tanks.
“The same assailants returned and passed beside Zangon-Kataf Town and drove 5km west of the town and attacked three other villages, from around 1:30 am this morning. In the attacks, Matyei, which is made up of 156 homes, was all burnt. The Catholic Church in Matei and its pastorium was burnt.
“The Catchiest, simply known as Catchiest Yau, and an infant, were killed in the attack. In all, 8 persons were killed last night in Matyei in a violence that lasted for over an hour.
“The armed Fulani herdsmen then went down to Abuyab Community, about 500 metres away, and burnt down ECWA Church Abuyab and the home of former ECOMOG Field Commander, Maj-Gen Shekari Billyok (rtd) and 11 homes.
“Their attempt to attack Runji Community, nearby, was repelled by villagers, who got reinforcement elsewhere. As they retreated, they attempted to destroy the main bridge linking Matyei with Zangon-Kataf Town and other Atyap communities, but only succeeded partially.
“Yesterday, before the night attacks occurred, the same armed herdsmen came in Hilux vans and attacked the Atyap of Makarau and Kachechere communities, leaving 10 people confirmed dead, 12 houses burned after looting them. The ECWA and the Anglican Church pastoriums that serve the communities were set ablaze.
“In a nutshell, 20 Atyap natives were killed by the attackers, who all the villagers that saw them identified as armed herdsmen between afternoon and today’s morning, Tuesday, 13 July, 2021.
“The previous day, Sunday, 11th July, Warkan Community, about 7 km east of Matyei, came under fire by armed herdsmen, leaving 8 people dead. The village was looted and animals rustled before 11 homes were burnt by the invaders.
“On 9th July, 2021, Timothy Ayok, 35, from Makarau Village, was ambushed and killed dastardly by armed herdsmen as he returned from his farm that afternoon. On 8th July, at Kibori Village (about 1km from Zangon-Kataf Town), a widow, Mrs Esther Patrick, 65, and her family of three were wiped out, including her 6-year old grandchild, Yerima Godfrey.
“Therefore, in the past 6 days, at least 33 Atyap natives of Zangon-Kataf area were massacred, 4 churches and 215 homes burnt by assailants always identified as ‘armed herdsmen’ in a genocidal campaign that has become very intensive since 2016.
“SOKAPU condemned this wicked act and the complicit silence and inaction of government from taking steps to bringing the perpetrators and their leaders to justice.
“Our Atyap members have been consistent in accusing the Hausa settlers of Zangon-Kataf semi-urban town of harbouring killer herdsmen, yet no authority has done anything about it.
“On the 31st March, 2021, some Fulani squatters on Atyapland complained that their cattle and sheep were killed by Atyap persons. In a swift move, 15 Atyap leaders from 4 indicted communities were arrested by troops, detained for days and handed over to Kaduna State Police Command Headquarters.
“The police alleged that the Atyap leaders, among them 85 years’ old Waje Laah, killed 706 Fulani cows and 75 rams in a single day and buried them in a ditch same day, which every rational person knows as impossible feat to accomplish. But all the same, they were kept in detention for three months without trial and only released on bail last week.
“Meanwhile, not less than 100 Atyap natives had been killed and about 24 Atyap villages burnt and hundreds of hectares of farmland bearing growing food crops destroyed by Fulani cows since July 2020. Not a single Fulani leader has been called for questioning.
“We are hereby calling for humanitarian assistance for the thousands of displaced Atyap women and children, who are still moving away from several villages to various places around Samaru Kataf, Zonkwa and environs. We are also calling on NEMA and SEMA to provide immediate relieve materials to the displaced persons.
“We call on the Nigerian Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International, the United Nations and all relevant international organizations, including local NGOs and Human Rights groups to bear pressure on the Federal Government and Kaduna State Government to stop the genocide in Atyapland and bring the culprits to justice,” SOKAPU stated.