The unending internecine crises in Kaduna State
Kaduna state has been in the news again with reports of communal crisis in some areas of the state. Crisis broke out in Kasuwan Magani and Kaduna metropolis, claiming not less than 77 lives in both areas.
The recent violent clash in the Kasuwan Magani axis of Kajuru local government area of the state claimed 55 lives, with properties worth billions of naira lost in the fracas. Violence broke out in the agrarian community penultimate Thursday when some youths tried stopping a mob action against a member of their faith caught stealing in the market. The situation escalated when they allegedly attacked those beating the suspected thief.
The community is no stranger to crises, as the first ethno-religious crises in the state occurred in Kasuwan Magani in 1980, since then the community has had it fair share of sectarian clashes.
Only 8 months ago, Muslims and Christians in the area clashed over interfaith relationship where adherents of both religions sought to prevent their girls from dating men from the other religion.
At least 15 people lost their lives in the February 2018 violence dubbed the ‘Kasuwan Magani girlfriend crisis’.
The 24hour curfew placed in the Kasuwan magani community after the last crisis could not stop the further spread of the crisis, as fresh violence later broke out in the metropolis that weekend. At least 22 people lost their lives while 44 others sustained injuries in the violence that broke out Sabon Tasha and its environs.
Kaduna state is notorious for frequent communal, ethno-religious, with the Zangon Kataf crisis being a constant reminder of the high level of insecurity in the state. Crisis began in Zangon Kataf in 1992, when indigenes and settlers clashed over control of the community market.
The state has witnessed not less than 26 major violence since 1980 when some settlers tried to take over Adara land.
For instance, the Maitasine riot believed to be a fore runner of religious crisis in northern Nigeria, also spread to ancient city of Zaria, in Kaduna state, where scores reportedly lost their lives in the 1980s.
The bloody religious violence left at least 4, 000 deaths in its trail in the north east alone, and several others in other parts of the region.
A Sharia riot also broke out in 2000 when the Kaduna state house of assembly debated the possibility of imposing sharia law in the state. The sharia crisis re-emerged in 2001 following the failure to introduce Islamic laws into the state.
Educational institutions like the Federal College of Education and the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, were also not speared of the religious crisis in the state, as the schools experienced some form of religious clashes in 1988, 2000, 2002, 2006.
Several groups have since condemned the crises in the state, with many of them calling for a thorough investigation into the latest episode so as to put an end to the incessant conflict.
The Arewa Consultative Forum and the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, both have condemned the crisis.
The state governor, Nasir El’Rufai, however vowed to impose sanctions on communities that permit violence in their midst by enforcing the Riots Damage Law of 1958, the Collective Punishment Law of 1915, and the Peace Preservation Law of 1917.
As old as the law may be, El’ Rufai believes the regulation can stem the intermittent crises in the state.
The governor, at an emergency meeting of the state Council of Chiefs, said though an additional police division will be established in Narayi and Sabon Tasha area of the state, he stressed that ultimate guarantee of harmony is the willingness of people to live in peace.
“These laws impose on the communities that permit violence in their midst obligations to be charged and levied monies for the cost of repairing damage done during episodes of violence.”
With the growing pace of insecurity in the country, Nigeria must begin identify systems that encourage peaceful coexistence among different religions among its people. Government can begin with the ‘catch them young approach’ by reintroducing history in basic and secondary schools so children can appreciate cultures and religions other than theirs. Subjects like inter-religious studies can also be introduces in primary schools so as to achieve this objective.
Interfaith gatherings associations should be encouraged so adherents can appreciate the similarities in both religions and work out ways of spreading peace across the state.
Efforts like the El’Rufai’s approach at getting community, traditional and religious leaders involved in finding a lasting solution to the crises in the state must be applauded. The whistleblowers approach could be introduced across the state to encourage communities point out perpetrators and those benefiting from crises in the state.
Government and security agencies must begin to note the trends of the various crises in the state so as to identify their root cause and put an end to the intermittent crises in the state. In this regards, the intelligence gathering aspect of the security agencies must be firm so as to gather timely information to help nip the situation in the bud.
The legislative and judicial arms of government work together to amend and interpret laws that would hasten the prosecution of anyone caught perpetrating religious or ethnic violence in any part of the country.
All stakeholders in the Nigerian project must therefore begin to form a powerful coalition for peace. It is time we all begin to speak out against any individual or institutions that try to hype our differences above our similarities.