55 killed and tribal leader kidnapped in Nigeria
More than 55 people were killed on Thursday, 18 October, when violence broke out between Muslim and Christian youths in Kasuwan Magani village, south of Kaduna State in central Nigeria.
Details of how the attacks started are unclear, a witness account said Muslim youths attacked the market over right-of-space by wheelbarrow pushers between Christian and muslim youths. The attack soon spread to much of the village with homes, stalls and business premises looted and burnt and over 20 people sustaining various degrees of injuries.
The Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, when he visited the village, said the police had confirmed that “55 corpses have been recovered; some burned beyond recognition.” El Rufai then imposed a dusk to dawn curfew on the local council.
“This country belongs to all of us. This state belongs to all of us. No one is going to chase anyone away. So, you must learn to live with everyone in peace and justice,” he told the community.
Governor El Rufai then met with leaders of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), as well as traditional rulers in the community and asked them “never use violence to solve a problem. We are not happy with this and government will pursue and punish those responsible for this devilish act.”
On Friday, however, a day after the governor’s visit, the traditional ruler of Adara chiefdom, Agom Adara, Maiwada Galadima and his wife, Victoria, were kidnapped and four of his security details were killed on his way back from the meeting with the governor in Kasuwan Magani.
An eye witness account said a group of over 50 armed men attacked the monarch’s convoy at about 5pm on Friday 19th October, at Makyali village after Kasuwan Magani, killing his police security officer, Isuwa Simon, and three palace guards.
“Our convoy came under heavy attack…The first persons to be murdered was the police orderly after being pulled out of the car and shot at close range,” according to one of the persons in the convoy who escaped alive and pleaded anonymity.
“They all asked us to lie down and I heard someone said, ‘this is him.’ I was asked to get up and follow the chief as they forced him and his wife to the bush. Some of the bandits were shouting, ‘Your money’ at those lying down… After walking for some minutes into the bush, I was directed to lie down. Then, sporadic shootings took over the entire area for minutes. Then, after a while the shooting stopped. I got up and saw they had all disappeared,” he added.
One of the drivers in the convoy said, “Immediately the bandits brought the convoy to a stop and killed the police orderly, they whisked away the Agom Adara into the bush with his wife and other person. I did not see the way and manner the palace guards were shot, as we were all ordered to lie face down. One of them asked me for money, I pointed at my pockets and he tore into my pocket to get the entire money out. It was a horrible scene and I pray that God will never allow me witness such horrifying sight. May God save our chief and his wife,” the driver said.
The killing of the 55 people and abduction of the traditional ruler further sparked off crises in Kaduna township, about 70 miles from Kasuwan Magani. Reports said Christian and muslim youths clashed in the streets forcing Governor El Rufai to impose a curfew on the state capital. A statement on the governor’s twitter page said “the decision has been taken in the best interest of the state.”
Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, on Sunday, 21 October, deployed more security operatives and special units to check the spreading violence. Acting DCP Jimoh Moshood, the Force Public Relations Officer, said “The intervention force will be working in synergy with the Kaduna state police command to ensure that peace and normalcy returns to the area.”
The police pleaded with “Traditional rulers, religious leaders… to prevail on their subjects, supporters, children and wards to… propagate peace, demonstrate love, and tolerance to promote harmonious coexistence with their fellow citizens, irrespective of religious, ethnic inclinations and differences.”
Over 20 people were killed in Ferbruary in a clash between Christians and Muslims and over 50 are in court over the incident however nothing yet has been heard of the case.
Hassan John is West Africa Editor, GCN and Priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos