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Musa: Let government defend people of Southern Kaduna against fulani herdsmen




Barrister Solomon Musa is the President of Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU). In this interview with SAXONE AKHAINE, he spoke on the recurring clashes between herdsmen and Southern Kaduna communities and the way out.

What are you doing to join hands with the state government to find solution to the persistent attacks and killings by herdsmen in Southern Kaduna?
I won’t want to call it herdsmen. I want to see it as terrorists invading and killing the people of Southern Kaduna. On our own part, we are ready to support government in all its programmes. We have called on government several times and advised government on what to do. We have told government some of the strategies they need to adopt. And we salute government on the steps they took with regards to cattle rustling in Zamfara State and Birnin Gwari in Kaduna State. One, they should go ahead and carryout a decisive operation in our area, especially the flash points.

We have given the counsel that there is a need to be proactive in terms of surveillance, aerial survey and intelligence gathering, and the rest. We have given that advice. We are ready to support government. You see, we are not an opposition party. We do not hold government as an enemy to our people, rather, we want to see government as a defender, and what we want to do is to partner with government to bring this issue to a decisive close. We have written to government on this. For example, in Kaduna State, we want to see a rapid end to the problem of attacks and killings by herdsmen in our area. We have written twice that we want to pay a courtesy visit. And what we saw was that the doors of government have remained permanently closed against us. And so, as far as we are concerned, the only time we were invited by the governor, we had a meeting on the way forward for the state.  We are fully prepared to partner with government to bring this issue to a close. Like I said earlier, government is not our enemy; we want to see government as a partner.

Recently Governor El-Rufai was quoted to have paid some Fulani herdsmen some money to settle them for their cattle that were killed and against further attacks and killings in southern Kaduna communities. What is your take on this?
Honestly, we have issued a press statement on this, and we said that governments all over the world, as soon as, terrorist are identified they go fully against them. Remember, that what the governor said was that these terrorists are trans-border gunmen. They are in about 14 different countries. Immediately you identify them, what you need to do is to alert their governments to arrest them.

Secondly, if their governments are not ready, you get Interpol to intervene and arrest them.

Thirdly, of course, the appropriate body to do that is the Federal Government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and those that are supposed to take the matter up. Because you know that anything that has to do with foreign issues is on the exclusive legislative list, so you don’t just carry money and settle foreign terrorists. For example, if somebody is attacking your family, will the head of the family now carry money and give the attackers to stop the terrorist activities? No, it is not done. What to do is to deal with them. They are criminals and that is what they are. You don’t pet them; you don’t give them any money. Now, the question that we have asked is this, since the Governor said they identified them since August, last year, presumably they have been trailing them since that time, what have been done to stem the spate of attacks? Now, from August last year to this time, the attacks have been severe. If actually they were given money, which means they have been using the money to buy sophisticated weapons and military hardware to fight us in Southern Kaduna. The control of the borders is not under the Southern Kaduna people; how can they enter freely the borders of Nigeria. The Federal Government can order the closure of the borders against the terrorists. Added to that, is the fact that if these people are coming from outside the country, is it actually right that we open our borders to cattle breeders?

But the government later denied paying the herdsmen. Don’t you believe the government?
I would have cause to believe the report, because immediately after that was done, our senator issued a press statement and after the statement, the governor’s media team, led by Samuel Aruwan came out to refute what the
senator said and supported his boss (the Governor). In that statement of the media team there was no place where the issue of payment or compensation to the terrorists was refuted. He didn’t say anything like that.

I think actually that the attempt to refute the issue by the governor was an afterthought, nothing more.

With all the crises in the state, the Shiites problems, Southern Kaduna attacks and killings, and other issues confronting the government today, do you think the environment is conducive for the delivery of dividends of democracy to the people?
Honestly, I will tell you my personal view. When Mallam Nasir El-Rufai was elected as the governor, I had a very high
hope because I thought this man is highly cosmopolitan, I thought this man will actually deliver the dividends of democracy, this man would be just, fair, defend the defenceless, and do a lot of things. But, the way, the whole thing is going on now, I have my doubts. I am beginning to have a lot of doubt as to his willingness, ability to deliver the dividend of democracy to the people in the state at the end of his tenure.

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