Thousands flee Zangon Kataf, Kauru as herdsmen sustain massacres
• Govt Sues For Calm • ‘My Husband Was Burnt To Ashes By Our Assailants’
In the last few weeks, thousands of villagers in Zangon Kataf and Kauru local councils, in Southern Kaduna attacked by militias have fled the area to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps and other places where they can find refuge.
Several villagers trooped to Kagoro, Kafanchan, neighbouring Jos in Plateau State, Kujama and Kaduna metropolis to avoid further attacks by the armed men.
The spokesman of the Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU), Luka Binniyat, while reacting to the exodus of the people, yesterday, lamented the attitude of the state government towards the humanitarian crises perpetrated by armed Fulani herdsmen.
According to him: “Shockingly, the humanitarian crises generated by this crime against humanity seems in the least to have bothered Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State.
“Since the siege on Atyap land started last year, with that of Chawai that has been dragging on for over six years now, Governor el-Rufai has never visited any of the scenes of the violence and has never offered any form of assistance to the victims,” he said.
Binniyat noted that, “in the last one week, atrocities have been committed in two local government areas; that is Kauru and Zangon Kataf, where 32 people were killed and four villages sacked. Unfortunately, the government has not shown any concern to victims of the attacks by the herdsmen.”
Narrating her ordeal, one of the victims, 45-year-old Mbiya Christiana Augustine, from Matyei Village in Atyap Chiefdom, said that she was sleeping at night when barking of restless dogs woke her up as armed herdsmen invaded the village.
Speaking with The Guardian at the ECWA Widows Training School, Samaru Kataf, Zangon Kataf Local Council, which was converted into an IDP camp in July, Madam Augustine said: “My husband was shouting outside that we should all come out and run. We heeded the instruction without delay. We ran into the dark through fields of growing corn. We ran as far as we could and hid in the bush. From there we could see the fire and the smoke coming from our village as houses were being burnt.”
Continuing, she said: “In the morning, we returned home and there were many other women and children coming from the bush as we walked with fear of the unknown to our village. As we got near, I could hear the voices of wailing women from Matyei, meaning that terrible things must have happened.”
As she walked on with her children, she discovered that every compound they passed by had been burnt completely. In trepidation, they hurried to their home to find it completely burnt. A small crowd had gathered.
“I asked about my husband. No one answered me. A woman came and held me and started crying. Then I heard one of my children screaming and calling the name of her father. She rushed into his room and I followed her in fear of the worst that could have happen to him,” she said in tears,
“He was nothing but a pile of ashes,” she said. “They shot him after he exhausted his bullets. Then they brought him inside and burnt him with the whole compound. We only buried his ashes,” she lamented.
Her husband, Augustine Arege, 50, was one of eight casualties recorded in the Matyei and the Abuyab attacks, which took place in Atyap Chiefdom that night.
Binniyat disclosed that there is now a new pattern of attack by the militia, adding, “there are attacks on farmers in their farms, just as one happened at a village called Machudu, close to Zangon Kataf on Thursday.
“The assailants are still lurking in bushes and preying on people who are isolated. So, the violence is not over. People in their communities are now fleeing in droves for refuge in IDP camps or staying with relatives in all parts of the state and even outside Kaduna.”
Meanwhile, when The Guardian contacted the Police Spokesman in the state, ASP Mohammed Jalige on phone for his reaction on the exodus of villagers from communities in Southern Kaduna to IDP Camps, and general insecurity in the area, he said “please let me contact the DPO in the area, I will get back to you.”
However, the Kaduna State government has renewed appeals to citizens to end the recurring violence following reports from security agencies that five people were killed in another series of attacks within Zangon Kataf Local Council.
A statement by the state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, said following the disturbing cycle of violence, the Kaduna State government has appealed to all residents to embrace recourse to the law, and break the brutal cycle of killing and reprisal, to adequately support government’s peace-building efforts in the area.