Gabriel Idibia, Kaduna
Thousands of villagers from various communities in Southern Kaduna, Friday staged a peaceful, solemn procession in Gwantu, Headquarters of Sanga Local Government Area, of Kaduna state, against what they termed unrelenting deadly sieges on their communities by armed herdsmen, and the confiscation of their lands for a cattle grazing reserve by Kaduna State Government.
Highlight of the procession was the presence of a retired Assistant Superintendent of Police, Gambo Usman, whose wife and all five children were killed in Kobin village, about 5km to Gwantu, by herdsmen while he was away.
Addressing the protester who all wore black, President of Southern Kaduna Peoples Union, (SOKAPU), the umbrella body of all 67 ethnic nationalities of Southern Kaduna, Dr. Musa Solomon, accused the state government of allegedly funding a joint military task force to recover rustled cows and arresting the bandits in Birnin Gwari forests in the eastern part of the state, but is silent on securing lives being lost in Southern part of the state.
The leader of ‘Coalition of Southern Kaduna Professionals’, organisers of the protest, Barrister Mark Jacob, who was once a Commissioner of Justice and Attorney General of the state, who spoke at the event, said it was unjustifiable for any government to seized inherited lands of famers and allocate same to alien pastoralists for their exclusive economic use.
Before the procession made its way, the President of SOKAPU told the crowd at the old motor park, Gwantu that Sanga has become the symbol of killing in Southern Kaduna, hence, the protest.
“Today, we have come here, irrespective of our religion, political affiliations and ethnic groupings, to inform you that we are sad witnesses to all the evil that has come over Sanga and many part of Southern Kaduna, and that we share your pains, anger and frustration.
“We are together joining our brothers and sisters all over the world, and all men of goodwill and conscience to say that enough of the bloodshed of our harmless and armless people in Sanga and other parts of Southern Kaduna. Enough of bloodshed, and kidnap, in Kaduna state. Let it Stop!
“SOKAPU stands with you in demanding that the energy, commitment and funds with which the present government of Kaduna state is spending in co-funding joint military operations in the forests and bushes of Birning Gwari to rescue rustled cows and goats, should be extended to Southern Kaduna to safeguard human lives and secure property.
“He has shown his preference for cattle and goats over the scores of human lives killed in Southern Kaduna under his government.
“With all the seriousness we can muster, SOKAPU reject completely the confiscation of 120,000 hectares of our ancestral lands as cattle grazing reserves.
“Even, when the constitution entrusts all lands in the hands of state governors, it is clear that no land should be taken from a community and allocated to another entity for its exclusive use for profit,” he said.
The crowd later formed a long procession, singing funeral hymns, as they marched to the local government secretariat.
The Deputy Chairman, Sanga LGA Caretaker Committee, who received the crowd and was handed the statement read by the SOKAPU president, on behalf of the Chairman, said he was happy to see that Southern Kaduna indigenes had such concern for Sanga.
“I will deliver your message to the Chairman, and I am sure he will forward it to the Governor,” he said.