By Hassan Zaggi
Last weekend, Nigerians woke up with a heartbreaking story of the gruesome killing of 10 people in Nandu, a calm settlement in Sanga Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
Nandu village is just few killometres away from Gwantu, the Sanga Local Government Headquarters. It is a purely a rural settlement. All residents of the area are peasant farmers.
The killing of the innocent villagers in the cool hours of the early morning of last Saturday was so brutal because the villagers were caught unawares. Innocent children were not left out as many of them were callously murdered and many people sustained injuries. Almost all houses in the village were torched. Those who survived were left with nothing to start life with. Their farm produce, cloths and all other belongings were bunt down.
This is not the first time residents of Sanga Local Government Area are being subjected to such barbaric treatment by suspected herdsmen.
It would be recalled that in June 2014, in one sweep, 32 people were killed by suspected Fulani herdsmen. This followed with several killings in different villages of the local government area leading to the displacement of hundreds of people from their ancestral homes. In fact, most villages across all the districts in Sanga local government area have one gory story or the other to tell about their experience with the dare-devil herdsmen.
As that is not enough, the Chairman, traditional council of Sanga Local Government, the Etum Numana, Dr. Gambo Makama, was murdered together with his pregnant wife and few others in his village- Tsauni Ayuba, on December 31, 2017.
His house and his official vehicle were not spared by the agents from hell as both were burnt down. Up till now, these killers are still at large.
It is worth noting that since 2014, residents of Sanga Local Government Area have not known peace. There have been silent attacks on innocent farmers by the suspected Fulani herdsmen in different villages across the local government. Most of the attacks could not attract the attention of the media, hence, were not heard by many.
As it is now, the economy of the local government has been literarily paralysed because of the serial attacks on farmers by herdsmen. This is because the economy of Sanga local government is largely driven by farmers. It is among the local governments in the country where large quantities of yams, banana, soya beans, guinea corn are produced in the country.
Since the past five years, most farmers don’t have access to their farms. Most times, if they muscle the courage to go and plant their crops, the Fulani herdsmen will go with their cattle and destroy the farm lands. In some cases, the poor farmers are beaten to stupor, injured and in rare cases, killed.
The questions though are: What has the peace-loving people of Sanga Local Government Area done to warrant such satanic treatment? What is the motive of the killers? Who is behind them? And whose script are they playing?
Discreet findings by The AUTHORITY showed that the recent killing at Nandu is allegedly a reprisal attack.
Sources in the area alleged that there was a squabble between a Fulani man and a resident of Nandu few years back and that it was not resolved. The source alleged that since Fulani people don’t easily forgive, the recent killing could be their own way of settling the dispute.
Another popular postulation making the rounds about the recent killings, in fact, including the other killings in the area, is that the suspected herdsmen are making frantic efforts to displace residents of the various villages in order take over both the villages and their farms for their pastoralist activities.
This is the suspicion many residents of the area are holding to.
According to them, most of the farm lands the people of the area could not have access to due to fear of being killed have since been taken over by the Fulani herdsmen.
In facts, reports coming from communities living in areas close to the river banks revealed that the residents have become constant targets of the herdsmen. They cannot access their farms for both the dry and rainy season farming activities as both their men and women are hounded on a daily basis by the suspected herdsmen.
The Way Forward
The Kaduna State government must up its game. The Kaduna State Government has a burden on its shoulder as far as the lives and property of the residents of Sanga Local Government Area are concerned.
It is a constitutional responsibility of the Nasir el-Rufai-led government to ensure that the lives and property of the poor and peasant farmers residing in Sanga Local Government are adequately protected.
The primary responsibility of any legitimate government across the world is the protection of lives and property of its citizens. Any government that fails to delivery this primary responsibility, it is a fact known internationally that such government has failed. In fact, in sane climes, those at the helm of affairs in such governments always take the path of honour by resigning.
Even though the Kaduna State Police Command has dispatched some troupes to ensure that normalcy returns to the area, this, to many, is just temporary measure.
The government and indeed, the security agencies must find a permanent solution to the recurrent killings in Sanga Local Government Area.
One of the permanent solutions is to create a permanent Mobile Police base in Sanga local government.
Providing the local government with a well equipped military base will not be a bad idea since the area has become a notorious flash point over the years with attendant loss of lives and property.
It is important to call on the Kaduna state government to, as a matter of urgency, intervene and assist the residents of Nandu with food, clothings and building materials to enable them start a new life.
On the other hand, the state government must also demonstrate high level sincerity in tackling the security challenges in Sanga local government.
*Zaggi is a Crime Editor at The AUTHORITY Newspapers.