Southern Kaduna is made up of 12 Local Government Areas,LGAs , and holds 51.2% of the population of Kaduna state, based on the 2006 census population figures, officials of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) have claimed.
The officials also said that out of 46,000 Sq km, Southern Kaduna covered 26, 000sqkm in Kaduna state and has 57 registered ethnic nationalities out of the 67 identified ones.
The officials who commended efforts by the Federal Government to ensure that peace returns to communities in the Southern part of the State, also canvassed for support to return the displaced victims of conflict back to their ancestral homes.
SOKAPU President, Jonathan Asake and other members of the Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) were with the Commander, Operation Safe Haven, Major General Chukwuwemeka Okonkwo, and some top members of his command in Jos, on how to promote peace in the troubled areas in Southern Kaduna.
In a statement signed by the National Publicity Secretary of SOKAPU, Luka Binniyat,” SOKAPU lamented over the devastation done to villages and communities as a result of the bloody crisis.”
“The meeting with the military, “was based on the Commander’s invitation, as he had earlier met with leaders of Hausa and Fulani communities in Southern Kaduna”.
“SOKAPU took time to brief the General on the nature of the violence in Southern Kaduna and assured him of our desire to see the end of the violence. He also told us what he was doing to return normalcy to Southern Kaduna and assured us of his neutrality in the crisis”.
According to SOKAPU, “we told him that contrary to ongoing narratives, Southern Kaduna is not the same as Kaduna South Senatorial Zone. While the latter is made up of only eight LGAs in the enclave, Southern Kaduna is made up of 12 LGAs and holds 51.2% of the population of Kaduna state, based on the 2006 census population figures. And that out of 46,000 Sq km, Southern Kaduna covers 26,000sqkm and has 57 registered ethnic nationalities with us, out of the 67 identified ones.”
According to SOKAPU, “we debunked the ongoing narratives that the crisis has a long history……we told him that past crises were largely urban-based, and looked unplanned, but triggered by identified reasons and that it could take years before reoccurrence”.
Previous violence in that area, he remarked, “was always between Muslims and Christians of any state of origin within affected areas”, noting that “but the current one looks preplanned, daily, with our rural communities as the targets of mass slaughter, destruction, and ejection by the invaders, who eventually take over some of the communities.”
“We told him that 109 communities have been captured by Fulani militia. We insisted that there is an agenda to force us out of our lands and be occupied by the invaders.”
“SOKAPU assured the OPSH commander that with no other alternative place or land to fall back to, Southern Kaduna indigenes are much more desirous of peace than any other party.”
“We also used the opportunity to thank him for the recent fast response rate of his troops to distress calls from communities under attack or the threat of attacks, unlike in the past. We also noted his humanitarian assistance to all parties in Southern Kaduna as exceptional.”
“Again, we showed appreciation with his deployment of large numbers of troops to Zangan District, in Atakad Chiefdom, Kaura LGA which eight communities had been totally displaced since last year and occupied by armed herdsmen. We acknowledged reports reaching us that the villagers have started returning and many of them, who can afford it, are rebuilding their homes.”
“Based on the above, we requested that other displaced communities in 4 LGAs of Southern Kaduna should also be assisted to return home. We then gave him a list of the remaining occupied villages in our report and called for urgent actions to retrieve the occupied lands and bring culprits to justice.”
“General Okonkwo “promised to be a neutral party in the crisis”, saying “he was equally desirous to see that peace and safety return to Southern Kaduna as the violence was bearing its brunt on the image of the country and posed avoidable stress to his troops and resources.”
SOKAPU commended the Federal government for the redeployment of more troops to the troubled areas of Southern Kaduna.
The union said, “thousands who may wish to return home cannot because their homes have been completely ruined.”
“Also, hundreds of Hectares farmlands of affected communities have been ravaged by cattle on the loose. We also have thousands living under subhuman conditions in various IDPs or at homes of relations. We are therefore calling for assistance from the government, NGOs, and good-spirited individuals for building materials, food, medicine, and any form of aid that will improve the situation of the victims.”
“We are calling on all our members at home to give maximum cooperation to men and officers of Operation Safe Haven. Again we want to appeal to our youths not to initiate any action that will be interpreted as violent to anyone trespassing on any farmland, but report such incidence to community leaders, the police, or any nearby military formation