THE Middle Belt Forum (MBF) has alleged that a desire to alter demographic composition of Southern Kaduna and other areas of the Middle Belt for the purpose of taking over land belonging to natives was reason behind mass killings in the region.
The National President of MBF, Dr Bitrus Pogu, who made the allegation in Abuja during a press conference, cited the abduction and subsequent murder of the traditional ruler of Kajuru, Dr Maiwada Raphael Galadima, who was returning from a meeting with Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai.
MBF also accused Kaduna State and federal authorities of “arresting leaders of victim communities in aberration to natural justice and fairness while the massacre of Adara natives is ongoing, instead of state or federal authorities apprehending the perpetrators of these killings and massive destructions in order to bring them to justice.”
Pogu declared that “killings in Southern Kaduna and other parts of Middle Belt is an effort to ensure dispossession of the natives from their land and handed over to foreign Fulani,” adding that local Fulani are peace loving and already integrated into the various communities where they reside.
“In 2016, the governor moved to give new nomenclatures to chiefdoms in Southern Kaduna in clear contravention of existing laws regarding the traditional institution in the state.
“The insistence by el-Rufai to have his way against the popular wish of the people led to a feud between him and the Adara Traditional Council.
“While this disagreement was still unresolved, the Adara monarch was abducted on October 19, 2018 by suspected Fulani herdsmen militia while coming back from a meeting with Governor el-Rufai on security matters affecting his chiefdom.
“He was later killed by his abductors on October 26, 2018 and his body dumped along Abuja-Kaduna Expressway.
“While the Adara people were still mourning the brutal killing of their paramount ruler, the state governor went ahead to live up to his resolve by splitting the chiefdom and creating an emirate out of it.”
According to him, no less than six towns/villages, including Ungwar Barde, Karmai, Maro and Dogon Noma, have been decimated with over 140 houses, food barns and churches in the attacked communities reduced to rubble by the invading herdsmen.
“Presently, over 15,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) now live in various camps provided by good spirited individuals, church and community-based organisations,” he said.
MBF appealed to both the state and federal governments to tackle the food, medication and shelter needs of the displaced persons located in various camps and hospitals.
It also called on the Federal Government to set up a commission of inquiry to probe the alleged killings of Fulani as alleged by el-Rufai in order to show proof of the killings, as “the Adara natives have continued to state their innocence over the governor’s claim which has continued to be the anvil of these senseless massacres.”
“We demand the immediate and unconditional release of nine Adara leaders, who are presently being detained in prison over unsubstantiated allegations of conspiracy and homicide as detention of leaders of victim communities, including the Wazirin Adara who is the next in command to the slain monarch, cannot augur well for peace,” the forum said.
“We also appeal for the retention of the pre-2015 status of all traditional institutions in Kaduna State,” the forum said.