//Violence: Godwin Ekosin, Kaduna//
Number of deaths from five villages attacked by alleged armed herdsmen in Kauru Local Government Area, LGA, of Kaduna state last Sunday has risen to 45, from 31 unofficial report has stated as Kaduna State Police Command could not ascertained the number of casualties as at the press time.
This was even as the state Governor, Nasir El-Rufai condemned the killings in strong terms but said peace efforts are still ongoing to tentatively address the issue.
It would be recalled that, the killings had been ab initio limited to Jema’a and Sanga local government areas but has now been extended to Kauru local government all in Southern part of the state.
Eyewitnesses account revealed that a renewed disagreement between a farmer and a Fulani man who requested to settle with his cattle in his farmland was said to have caused the onslaught. This came few hours after a peace meeting by the state government in Samaru Kataf about 50 minutes drive from latest affected villages.
The affected villages are: Kigam, Kitakum, Unguwan Magaji , Unguwan Rimi and Kizipi, all in Chawai Chiefdom, in Kauru LGA, about 300km east of Kaduna metropolis.
Unofficial but credible sources in the villages revealed that they had recovered and buried 43 bodies mainly women and children around 3pm on Monday while two others were recovered yesterday.
“Last September, a Fulani man called Haruna approached a famer here in Unguwan Magaji and asked that he wanted to settle with his cattle on portion of farmland the farmer had cleared. The farmer said, he could not give out the farm because he had cleared it preparatory for farming yam by October. Nonetheless, Haruna moved in with his cattle and built straw huts on the farm where he slept. When the case was taken to the police station in Kamuru Ikulu and Haruna was invited, he came and went violent, beating up people with his herdsmen stick. The police detained him and later released him.
“So, last Sunday, around 3pm, they invaded our villages. They burnt 65 houses, and all our food stuff. We have buried 43 today and we will bury two tomorrow”, an elderly man in the area recounted.
However, Rep member representing Kauru/Lere Federal Constituency, Hon Simon Arabo was the first government official to visit the place according to a village source.
“It was after his arrival that we were able to search the whole bushes to recover some corpses. Before then the Fulani, scores in numbers, were still moving around the villages, destroying houses and looting and killing animals on sight.
“He came with five truck of policemen. He also gave us some cash to buy what we can use to feed for the meantime.
Meanwhile, a statement signed by Special Assistant to Governor El-Rufai on Media and publicity, Samuel Aruwan described the killings as barbaric conduct by people who are opposed to peaceful and harmonious living by communities.
The government explained that as it continues to work on security enhancements, it will also keep pursuingpeace-building, resolving conflicts through dialogue between communities as a panacea for sustainable peace and development in the affected area. It said emergency relief for survivors has been ordered along with enhanced security.
“The government sympathizes with families that lost their loved ones and properties. The Governor prays for the repose of their souls and wishes those that sustained injuries speedy recovery.
“The Kaduna State Security Council has received preliminary reports of the attacks and ordered full scale investigation in to the matter. It has taken further measures to curtail threats to peace in the area.
“However, the government has directed the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) to provide with immediate effect relief materials to the displaced persons in the communities.’’
But, Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU) through its National President, Solomon Musa has called on the state Governor who had recently promised the sum of N100million to rebuild the affected churches and mosques in the area to rather rebuild the villages and dwelling places to address the immediate needs of traumatised people of the affected areas.