Judicial Commission Report in 2001supported the creation of a separate state for the marginalized people of Southern Kaduna
By Theophilus Abbah
The Judicial Commission into the religious disturbances in Kaduna, also referred to as Shariah Riot, in 2000, after providing evidence of ethnic, religious, and social disharmony in Kaduna State, recommended that, in the interest of peace, a new state should be carved out of Kaduna State for the people of Southern Kaduna. The Judicial Commission was headed by Hon. Justice Dalhatu Jaafaru, and has other members to include Alhaji Akilu M. Idris, Mr. P.Y. Lolo, Mr. Victor Gwani, and Alhaji Muhammed Tukur Othman. It submitted its report to Kaduna State Government in April 2001.
On the last page of the 29-page report, the panel of inquiry concluded thus, “Recommendation for splitting Kaduna into two has been made by SOKAPU and other individuals through various memoranda. These recommendations, according to the memoranda, were a consequence of many years of alleged domination and marginalization against the Southern Kaduna indigenes. It is the view of the Commission that whereas demands for state creation are constitutional rights of any community, such demands have to conform to certain constitutional guidelines…” In its remark, the Kaduna State Government said it accepted the conclusion. For the commission to have included this in a tongue-in-cheek tone in its conclusion, it meant the demand for a new state for Southern Kaduna was so prominent that it could not have been ignored.
It was appalling that two decades after, no lessons have been learned, and no system has been put in place to ensure redress.
Current bloody events have led to fresh outcries by the people of Southern Kaduna, an indication that the issues tendered at the Judicial Panel 20 years ago have not been sorted out by state and federal governments. In the Shariah Riot, according to the report, as many as 1,239 persons were identified as having died, while an unspecified number of persons were buried without being identified, and many were declared missing. In terms of damages, the value of individuals’ properties destroyed was put at N4,927,306,603.00 (approximately N5 billion) while the losses registered by corporate organizations was put at N1,445,881,151.00 (approximately N1.5 billion). Considering the value of the Naira in the year 2000, these were monumental losses. In any part of the civilized world where such carnage occurs, there would be urgent and deliberate efforts to ensure redress, and put a measure that would in place to prevent re-occurrence. However, it was appalling that two decades after, no lessons have been learned, and no system has been put in place to ensure redress, the punishment of those who caused the violence, and to prevent a repeat of ethno-religious killings in Kaduna State. Worse still, those who suffered losses were not compensated, as Kaduna State Government rejected that aspect of the panel’s recommendation.
In the last few months, hundreds of persons have been killed in Southern Kaduna, over a hundred villages burnt down, and farmlands occupied in an apparent ethnic cleansing by Fulani bandits who take pride in denigrating the people of Southern Kaduna as infidels. A transcript of one of the bold and provocative statements by the bandits says, “Both the infidels in Kasuwan Magani, infidels in Laduga, infidels in Kachiya, infidels in Gwanin Gora, infidels in Kafanchan and all the infidels in southern Nigeria. The infidels in southern Kaduna State we are informing you with a loud voice we that are Fulanis, you think you will try us? I swear I swear, I swear, we are telling you with a loud voice that we are going to follow you right into your houses, and kill you. If you touch our people we will not forgive you, we are telling you the government of Kaduna state. Especially you El-Rufai, be patient and leave us with them. They are the ones that said we are more powerful than them. We are Fulanis and we know the forest, we know the city, we spend time in the city, we know their secret, they don’t know our secret…”
The people of southern Kaduna are victims of the worst carnage in 2020,
Such bigotry proves that the Judicial Commission’s findings and recommendations are relevant 20 years after. In the report, the commission noted that the February 2000 riot was caused by the State House of Assembly’s steps to enact a law that would put Kaduna State in the circle of Shariah states in Nigeria, irrespective of the demography of Kaduna State. In this state, Christians constitute a sizeable population, especially in the Southern Kaduna axis. To demonstrate the bigotry that was in operation in the state, Muslim youths stoned Christians on peaceful protest against the House of Assembly’s plans to enact an edict that would impose Shariah rule on the state.
As a deliberate effort has not been made to harmonize religious perception in the state, and of course, in most part of Nigeria, the people of southern Kaduna are victims of the worst carnage in 2020, as armed Fulani bandit invoke hatred and bigotry in order to wipe the people of Southern Kaduna from their ancestral lands. The term ‘infidel’ or ‘kafir’ is used when radical Muslims, or Islamists, regard with condensation, anyone who does not believe in God, or anyone who worships other gods, like pagans. The implication is that anyone called ‘infidel’ is perceived to be worthless, so his life is of little value and could be dispensed with. It is, therefore, not surprising that Fulani bandits mercilessly waste the lives of the people of Southern Kaduna recklessly.
It is in the interest of all the political groups, electoral constituencies, and government of Kaduna State to support such a move in order to wipe out the bloody mark on the map of Kaduna State.
Now that the National Assembly has called for memoranda on an amendment to the 1999 Constitution, and that state creation is one of the themes in the exercise, this is the auspicious time to create a separate state for the people of Southern Kaduna, as recommended by the Judicial Commission of Inquiry. There are copious instances in which new countries had to be created to put an end to bigotry and religious discrimination. A classical example was the case in Sudan, where South Sudan had to be created to halt the bigotry and persecution that the people in South Sudan suffered in the hands of Arab rulers in Sudan. The discrimination against Christians and other non-Muslims in the old Sudan was so harsh and severe that a jihadist group, like Fulani militia, called Janjaweed, emerged with a resolve to wipe out the people of today’s South Sudan. The definition of Janjaweed is captured by Wikipaedia thus: ”The Janjaweed comprised Sudanese Arab tribes, the core of whom are from the Abbala (camel herder) background with significant recruitment from the Baggara (cattle herder) people.” This definition is borrowed from the United Nations. The Janjaweed militia killed thousands of Black non-Muslims in the Darfur region, while the central government of Omar Al-Bashir, remained akimbo, without lifting a finger to help the ‘infidels.’
For the creation of a state for Southern Kaduna, the ball may be in the court of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) to initiate the process for the demand of a state that would ensure their safety for persecution and bigotry in Kaduna State. From its population and landmass, the region is sizeable enough to be granted a state, if compared with the South-East geopolitical zone where smaller landmass and population have become states. It is in the interest of all the political groups, electoral constituencies, and government of Kaduna State to support such a move in order to wipe out the bloody mark on the map of Kaduna State.