By Ralph Madugu
The Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) have reported the killing of 33 people, burning of 4 and 215 homes in Zangon Kataf LGA following latest attacks by suspected Fulani herdsmen.
According to a statement signed by its spokesperson, Luka Binniyat revealed that for the 6th day running, armed gunmen, identified as Fulani herdsmen by victims, lay siege to several communities in Atyap land, Zangon Kataf Local Government Area (LGA) of Southern Kaduna and left no less than 33 people dead in what SOKAPU termed “an ongoing genocide and land grabbing” in which 108 Southern Kaduna communities have been displaced and taken over by them since 2019.
The statement added that in the latest orgy of bloodshed, the invaders stormed Magamiya village, last night around 11pm and started shooting stating that the family compound of the traditional ruler of Atyap Chiefdom, Agwatyap of Atyap Chiefdom, Sir Dominic Yahaya was attacked.
“Several blocks of flats and rooms that make up the family compound of five households were looted of valuables and foodstuffs which were carted into four waiting Hilux vans. The houses were then set ablaze. A relation of the revered traditional ruler, Mr. Toma Tauna, 70, was killed by the assailants.
“They went further to loot 6 more homes which they also burnt leaving Mathew Pama, 62, dead in the same village.
“After putting in about 2 hours of unchallenged murder, looting and arson, they armed herdsmen attempted to burnt down St Pious Catholic Church in the village, but help came from other villages and attackers retreated in the Hilux vans for another village.
“Magamiya is about 3km from Zangon Kataf semi-urban town where combined troops of soldiers and other security men are camped complete with patrol vehicles and armoured tanks.”
According to SOKAPU, the same assailants returned and passed besides Zango Kataf town and drove 5km west of the town and attacked three other villages adding that in the attacks, Matyei made up of 156 homes were all burnt including the Catholic Church in Matei and its pastorium, the Catchiest, simply known as Catchiest Yau, and an infant, were killed in the attack.
“In all, 8 persons were killed last night in Matyei in a violence that lasted for over an hour.
“The armed Fulani herdsmen then went down to Abuyab Community about 500 metre away and burnt down ECWA church Abuyab and the home of Former ECOMOG Field Commander, Maj. Gen. Shekari Billyok (rtd) and 11 homes. Their attempt to attack Runji Community, nearby was repelled by villagers who got reinforcement elsewhere.
“As they retreated, the attempted to destroy the main bridge linking Matyei with Zangon Kataf town and other Atyap Communities, but only succeeded partially, the statement added.
SOKAPU stated that before the night attacks occurred, the same armed herdsmen came in Hilux vans and attacked the Atyap of Makarau and Kachechere Communities leaving 10 people confirmed dead, 12 houses burned after looting them.
Other places touched during the attack include an ECWA and the pastorium belonging to an Anglican Church that serves the communities.
Said SOKAPU “In a nutshell, 20 Atyap natives were killed by attackers (who all the villagers that saw them) identified as armed herdsmen between afternoon and today’s morning, Tuesday, 13 July, 2021.
“The previous day, Sunday, 11th July, Warkan Community, about 7 km east of Matyei, came under fire by armed herdsmen, leaving 8 people dead. The village was looted and animals rustled before 11 homes were burnt by invaders.
“On 8th July, at Kibori village, about 1km from Zangon Kataf town, a widow, Mrs Esther Patrick, 65 and her family of three were wiped out, including her 6-year-old grandchild, Yerima Godfrey.
“On 9th July, 2021, Timothy Ayok, 35, from Makarau village was ambush and killed dastardly by armed herdsmen as he returned from his farm that afternoon.
Therefore, in the past 6 days, at least 33 Atyap natives of Zangon Kataf Area were massacred, 4 churches and 215 homes burnt by assailants always identified as armed herdsmen in a genocidal campaign that has been become very intensive since 2016.
While condemning the recent attacks as well the “The complicit silence and in action of government from taking steps to bringing the perpetrators and their leaders to justice, SOKAPU alleged that Atyap members have been consistent in accusing the Hausa settlers of Zangon Kataf semi urban town of harbouring killer herdsmen, yet no authority has done anything about it.
According to SOKAPU, on the 31st March, 2021, some Fulani squatters on Atyap land complained that their cattle and sheep were killed by Atyap persons stating that in a swift move, 15 Atyap leaders from 4 indicted communities were arrested by troops, detained for days handed over to Kaduna State Police Command Headquarters.
The umbrella body of the ethnic groups of Southern Kaduna said that the police alleged that the Atyap leaders, among them 85 years old Waje Laah, killed 706 Fulani cows and 75 rams in a single day and buried them in a ditch same day, which every rational person know as impossible feat to accomplish. But all the same, they were kept in detention for three months without trial and only released on bail last week.
“Meanwhile not less than 100 Atyap natives had been killed and about 24 Atyap villages burnt and hundreds of hectares of farmland bearing growing food crops destroyed by Fulani cows since July 2020. Not a single Fulani leader has been called for questioning.”
Soliciting for humanitarian assistance for the thousands of displaced Atyap women and children who are still moving away from several villages to various places around Samaru Kataf, Zonkwa and environs, SOKAPU also called on the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Kaduna State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) to provide immediate relieve materials to the displaced persons.
SOKAPU also called on the National Human Rights Commission, Amnesty Internationals, the United Nations and all relevant international organizations including local NGOs and Human Rights groups to mount pressure on the Federal Government and Kaduna State Governments to put an end to “the genocide in Atyap land and bring the culprits to justice”.