Nigerian army confirms 66 dead in Kaduna mayhem

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 The Nigerian Army has confirmed the killing of 66 people in the attack on Kajuru Local Government Area Of Kaduna State.

The General Officer Commanding One Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Faruk Yahaya, said that 37 out of the 66 people killed were buried in a shallow grave near a river bank in Kajuru.

This confirmation comes amid conflicting narratives on what could have triggered the recent conflict as well as the casualty figures, just as some questioned the veracity of the story about the attacks, said have been carried out on Maro, Ungwar Barde, Iri and Kutora communities.

The state governor, Nasir El-Rufai, had announced the killings on Friday evening but the news was debunked by other stakeholders.

The Kaduna State Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), in a statement by its Chairman, Rev. Joseph Hayab, dismissed the claims by the Governor saying he deliberately gave out the wrong information to deceive Nigerians and the international community.

He said the false alarm as contained in a statement by the governor on Friday evening, was aimed at stirring up violence in the state.

The statement read, “The press statement by the spokesman for Kaduna State Governor, Mr Samuel Aruwan, suggests that “the killings in Kajuru Local Government were carried yesterday (Friday) 15/2/2019. This is false in its entirety.

“We are aware that the incident happened in the late hours of Sunday 10 February to February 12, 2019, at about 1am at Gindin Gada in the Maro Ward of Kajuru Local Government, Kaduna State where unidentified hoodlums went into the village and killed about 11 people in their sleep.

“The incident led to reprisals. Two of the suspects were said to have been apprehended and handed over to the Divisional Police Officer in the area. It was in the afternoon of the said date of the attack (as contained in the press statement) that the District Head of Kufana, Mr Titus Dauda, and four of his local chiefs were released after their invitation by the Department of State Services.

“We see this as an illogical intentional, premeditated attempt at stirring violence in the state for whatever expected gains. The incidence of raising false alarm by the Kaduna State Government should make Nigerians realise that some of our leaders are also guilty of hate speech and that makes them major actors in the game that has denied us peace and has claimed the lives of our love ones.’’

On his part, senator representing Kaduna Central senatorial district whose constituency covered the affected local government, Shehu Sani, also wondered why the incident would be made an issue on the eve of the general elections.

He said, “What the people of the area told me was that the issue happened since Sunday and the security agencies waded in and resolved it immediately. There was no tension that can threaten peace in the area.”

Also, the Zonal Coordinator, North-West office of the National Emergency Management Agency, Mr. Ishaya Chonoko, stated that there were no fresh killings in Kajuru LGA on Friday as claimed by the governor.

He attributed the wrong information to the activities of those he described as “unpatriotic Nigerians” who were out to take advantage of the general elections to instigate violence in the state.

Chonoko said, “It is not true that 66 people were killed in Kaduna State. I am in Kaduna now and I can confirm to you that I am not aware of any 66 people that were killed in Kajuru Local Government Area by any unknown gunmen.

“There was an attack last week (Sunday) where 11 people were said to have been killed. It was the usual tribal clash between the Fulani and the indigenes. Anytime there is a clash between two tribes in Kaduna, there is usually reprisal.

“We made necessary contacts only to discover that it was merely a rumour to instigate violence. Please disregard it. It is not true at all.”

Accompanied by the GOC One Division and Commissioner of Police in the state, the Governor has visited the communities where they held a meeting with the leaders with a view to identifying the remote and immediate cause of the crisis.

He expressed dismay over the attempt by some people to politicise the killings, adding that there was a deliberate plan to frustrate the government’s efforts towards fostering an atmosphere of peace in the communities.

On his part, the commissioner of police in the state, Ahmad Abdurahman, said that seven suspects had been arrested over the killings.

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